Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
Since March, Medical Teams International has been responding to an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. Our Liberian office and teams provided education, supplies, communication and transportation to help control the region-wide spread. As recently as May, the virus seemed largely under control.
Tragically, there has been a second intense outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, with the virus spreading out of control. Now, this is the most widespread and deadly Ebola epidemic ever. According to the WHO, there are nearly 760 suspected cases and over 460 deaths. The virus is 90% fatal, and there is no vaccine or cure.
Our staff in Liberia is mobilizing now to help contain the deadly virus. MTI is coordinating with ELWA hospital, one of our partners working in Monrovia, as well as the Ministry of Health, who has requested our assistance.
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Some of our key initiatives to help control the deadly virus involve:
- Providing volunteers to support ELWA Hospital, our partner in Monrovia. ELWA is one of three designated isolation units for Ebola in the area. Publically praised by the Ministry of Health, it is a model example of infection control, with zero health workers infected. By relieving staff in hospital assignments, local care providers can go to the front lines to assist with Ebola patients.
- Mobilizing community health volunteers to provide Ebola prevention in the community. Sensitization of the community on how the virus spreads is critical to containing the virus. Rumors and misunderstanding in the community abound, with people refusing to identify contacts because they believe white people are bringing the disease or fear they will contract the virus if placed in isolation.
- Providing protection training of nearly 100 health workers. Health workers are afraid to go to work for fear of infection, and non-Ebola related deaths result. MTI is training in the basics of Ebola and how to protect themselves from infection.
- Assessing medicines and medical supply needs.
We are mobilizing volunteers now, with the first U.S. volunteer heading out July 6th. All staff and volunteers near an Ebola-infected area will wear protective suits.