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6 Ways Technology is Helping to Fight Ebola

By Timo Luege, TC103: Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency Management facilitator via TechChange

As Ebola continues to ravage Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, people from all around the world are working together to stop the disease. In addition to the life saving work of medical staff, logisticians and community organizers, information and communication technology (ICT) is also playing a vital part in supporting their work.

After consulting the TechChange Alumni community and other experts in international development and humanitarian assistance, I pulled together a list of different technologies being applied to manage Ebola. Below are six examples showing how ICT is already making a difference in the current crisis.

1. Tracing outbreaks with mapping and geolocation
Aside from isolating patients in a safe environment, one of the biggest challenges in the Ebola response is tracing all contacts that an infected person has been in touch with. While that is difficult enough in developed countries, imagine how much more difficult it is in countries where you don’t know the names of many of the villages. It’s not very helpful if someone tells you “I come from Bendou” if you don’t know how many villages with that name exist nor where they are. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team has helped this process through creating maps since the beginning of the response.

See: West Africa Ebola Outbreak – Six months of sustained efforts by the OpenStreetMap community.

Monrovia OSM pre-Ebola
Map of Monrovia in OpenStreetMap before and after volunteers mapped the city in response to the Ebola crisis. (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap)

In addition, the Standby Task Force is supporting the response by helping to collect, clean and verify data about health facilities in the affected countries. The information will then be published on UN OCHA’s new platform for sharing of humanitarian data.

2. Gathering Ebola information with digital data collection forms
Contact tracing involves interviewing a lot of people and in most cases that means writing information down on paper which then has to be entered into a computer. That process is both slow and prone to errors. According to this Forbes article, US based Magpi, who just won a Kopernik award, is helping organizations working in the Ebola response to replace their paper forms with digital forms that enumerators can fill out using their phones.

Digital forms not only save time and prevent errors when transcribing information, well designed digital forms also contain simple error checking routines such as “you can’t be older than 100 years”.

If you are interested in digital forms, check out the free and open source Kobo Toolbox.

3. Connecting the sick with their relatives using local Wi-Fi networks
Elaine Burroughs, a Save the Children staff member who is also TechChange alumna ofMobiles for International Development, shared that they are using their local Wi-Fi network to connect patients in the isolation ward with the relatives through video calls. Both computers have to be within the same network because local internet connections are too slow. In situations where video calls are not possible, they provide patients with cheap mobile phones so that they can talk with their relatives that way. Elaine added: “Several survivors have told us that what kept them going was being able to speak with their family and not feel so isolated when surrounded by people in hazmat suits.”

4. Sharing and receiving Ebola information via SMS text messages
I have heard about a number of different SMS systems that are currently being set up. Some are mainly to share information, others also to receive information.

mHero is an SMS system specifically designed to share information with health workers. It works with UNICEF’s RapidPro system, a white label version of Kigali-based TextIt which is one of the best SMS communication systems I know. RapidPro is also at the heart of a two-way communication system that is currently being set up by UNICEF, Plan International, and the Scouts.

The IFRC is of course using TERA to share SMS, a system that was developed in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and already used in Sierra Leone during a recent cholera outbreak.

5. Mythbusting for diaspora communities via social media
Social media also has a place, though not as much as some people think. With internet penetration at less than 5 per cent in Liberia and less than 2 per cent in Sierra Leone and Guinea, it is simply not relevant for most people – unlike radio for example. However, all of these countries have huge diasporas. The Liberian diaspora in the US alone is thought to be as many as 450,000 people strong – and they all have access to social media. Experiences from Haiti and the Philippines show that the diaspora is an important information channel for the people living in affected countries. Very often they assume that their relatives in the US or Europe will know more, not least because many don’t trust their own governments to tell the truth.
Social media can play an important role in correcting misinformation and indeed, both the WHO and the CDC are using their social media channels in this way.

6. Supporting translations of Ebola information remotely online
Last but not least, Translators Without Borders is helping NGOs remotely from all over the world to translate posters into local languages.

SoundCloud Widget: https://soundcloud.com/bbc-world-service/world-update-translators-without-borders-take-on-ebola

Low tech does it
As a final word, I’d like to add that while technology can make a real difference we must not forget that very often low tech solutions will be more efficient than high tech solutions – it depends on what is more appropriate for the context. So don’t start an SMS campaign or launch a drone just because you can. It’s not about what you want to do. It’s not about technology. It’s about what’s best for the people we are there to help.

A Summary Infographic

TechChange Ebola Infographic

We will be discussing these technology tools, Ebola, and many similar issues inTC103: Tech Tools and Skills for Emergency Management and TC103: mHealth – Mobiles for Public Health. Register by October 31 and save $50 off each of these courses.

Do you have additional examples of how ICT is helping in the Ebola response? Please share them in the comments!

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Delaware Liberians rally to send food, supplies overseas

by Jen Rini, The News Journal 9:16 p.m. EDT October 23, 2014

Source: Local Liberians rally to send food, supplies overseas

Sei Boayue’s uncle was just trying to do the right thing.

His uncle had seen how Ebola had seeped into his beloved Ganta, a town nestled on the border of Liberia and Guinea.

The market there was teeming with people forced to purchase food every day because of a lack of refrigeration. But in the market, there is no way to tell who is infected.

So his uncle made the decision to travel there every day alone, and keep his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchild at home away from the risk.

It didn’t work.

“They all passed from the virus. No one survived it. The unfortunate thing is this is now becoming a commonplace thing,” Boayue, 57, of Townsend, said. “After my uncle died, you sit here and everything seems to be so daunting. You wonder: is there anything I can do?”

Boayue didn’t sit for long. Just weeks after the deaths of his relatives, Boayue and other Liberians living in Delaware are fueling an effort to send as much food and supplies as they can to their remaining family and friends trying to survive in Liberia.

To date, 4,555 people in West Africa have died from the virus, 2,705 in Liberia. And those numbers continue to grow.

Boayue is working with the Delaware Community Foundation to start a charity dedicated to sending nonperishable foods abroad, a luxury for those living in the heart of the Ebola crisis.

He still has nine siblings who are living in the affected areas. He hasn’t heard from one sister in over a month. There’s no communication to say where she is, or even if she is alive, he said.

In Liberia, the tragedy is there is no such thing as “local” food. Traditionally, most of the food ending up on Liberians’ plates has been imported, he said. After a string of civil wars over 14 years, and now the Ebola disaster, food prices have doubled and tripled.

Even if he raises enough money to buy food, copious amounts of red tape stands between his group and getting those goods on the ground to the people that need it most.

“How many kids will die within that time period,” he said.

“The situation in Liberia is such that cultural attitudes also had a big part to play in the out-of-control nature of this crisis. What would help most people is food security.”

Jarso Jallah Saygbe, a Liberian living and working in Dover, agreed that sanitizer and Clorox are not enough.

“The approach needs to be holistic,” Jarso said. Her family living in Liberia takes each day at a time. Jarso talks to her sister almost every day and tries to send as much money and supplies as she can.

“You never know when the phone rings what’s going to happen,” she said.

Jarso’s brother-in-law, Moses Ndama, pastor of the Freedom Christian Fellowship in Dover, held an informal meeting Wednesday evening to jump start planning for an organized donation effort for children in need abroad.

Food, clothes, rain boots and school supplies are all needed, said her husband, Moses Saygbe, who is Ndama’s brother. The church is hosting a meeting Saturday at 10 a.m. to gather Delawareans from all walks of life, from West Africa to Seaford, to mobilize against the Ebola crisis.

As the planning takes off to send aid abroad, Moses said it is important for the local Liberian community to work with the state to preemptively prepare for an Ebola case in Delaware.

He’d like to see the state institute special residential centers in Delaware used to screen and house West Africans traveling into the state from the affected areas. Efforts like this would erase the stigma that every Liberian is living with Ebola, he said.

“We need to end prejudice. We are not the virus,” Ndama added.

For now, the Freedom Christian Fellowship is working to send goods directly to a sister organization in the Brewerville community in Liberia.

Last weekend, the community received Clorox, hand sanitizers and soap, Ndama said. It still took a month for the goods to get there, but it’s better than nothing.

They hear stories every day that are heartbreaking, but the kids are the hardest hit, Ndama said. Schools have been closed since late July. Children, many orphaned, are forced to beg on the streets and scrounge for money.

The future of Liberia rests with nurturing these children, he said.

“If we don’t invest in the kids, we will lose the future generation,” Ndama said.

“We can defeat Ebola, but can we survive after?”

Jen Rini can be reached at 302-324-2386 or jrini@delawareonline.com. Follow @JenRini.

CHURCH OUTREACH

What: A statewide meeting hosted by the Freedom Christian Fellowship to discuss donations, plans for more community outreach.

Where: Freedom Christian Fellowship, Dover, 4164 North DuPont Hwy. (North Dover Shopping Center)

When: Saturday, 10 a.m.

Liberia rejects increasing presidential power to combat Ebola crisis

Global News

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberian lawmakers on Friday rejected a proposal to grant President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the power to further restrict movement and public gatherings and to confiscate property in the fight against Ebola. One legislator said such a law would have turned Liberia into a police state.

The proposal’s defeat came as the World Health Organization once again raised the death toll attributed to the Ebola outbreak. The Geneva-based U.N. agency said that 4,033 confirmed, probable or suspected Ebola deaths have now been recorded.

READ MORE: Ebola death toll above 4,000

All but nine of them were in the three worst-affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Eight of the rest were in Nigeria, with one patient dying in the United States.

On Friday, David Nabarro, the U.N. special envoy for Ebola, said the number of Ebola cases is probably doubling every three-to-four weeks and the response…

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Alfred Sirleaf’s “Daily Talk” blackboard pictures

Good example that in some parts of West African cities, locals get through news through the public chalkboard (not without a lot of political commentary added)

Ebola in Liberia

Alfred Sirleaf lives in Monrovia where he has a “newspaper” stand of a different sort– a blackboard.  Here are some photos of his Ebola reporting: http://wpmedia.news.nationalpost.com/2014/07/liberia_west_africa_ebola.jpg?w=620

Source:  http://wpmedia.news.nationalpost.com/2014/07/liberia_west_africa_ebola.jpg?w=620

http://www.canada.com/cms/binary/10088327.jpg?size=620x400s

People read the comments on current events in Liberia including the deadly Ebola virus written by social commentator Alfred Sirleaf, on a blackboard in Monrovia.                                                      Source:  http://www.canada.com/cms/binary/10088327.jpg?size=620x400s

The popular “Daily Talk” bulletin in Monrovia depicts its view of government’s response to the Ebola crisis on Aug. 11, 2014.                                                                                                                              Source:  http://allafrica.com/stories/201408081783.html

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A report from Patrick Conteh in Kroo Bay, Sierra Leone

The Mountain Lion

Just before we left Sierra Leone, we left a camera with Patrick Conteh of Ngbotima. He’s an aspiring journalist and we gave him the task of reporting back on his life.

With all of the current focus on Ebola, these pictures and his accompanying report are, I think, a timely reminder of the struggles that the people of Sierra Leone are used to facing on a daily basis. When we question why this disease is taking so long to contain, it is worth remembering that these are the conditions that the WHO and MSF are up against.

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Ebola denial: Escaped patients and besieged hospitals in Sierra Leone

How to Ignore a Plague: Escaped Ebola patients, besieged hospitals, and deadly denial in West Africa

By Umaru Fofana

In the doorway of an Ebola isolation facility in Kenema, Sierra Leone, stood a group of 10 or so patients. I could see them from a distance—I’d been advised by the medics not to get too close since I was not wearing protective clothing. They were mostly women, but I also saw two children: a boy and a girl. Ebola was eating him up. I was later told that the boy’s name was Kinnie, and that he was five years old. I shouted across to him, but he was too emaciated and weak to reply.

Inside the isolation wards were dozens of people who had tested positive for the rampaging hemorrhagic fever, including at least five nurses. They had apparently been infected by patients who had not been suspected of carrying the virus. Until recently, health workers didn’t use protective gloves unless they knew they were treating a confirmed case of Ebola—even though the virus is hard to diagnose, easily transmitted through bodily fluids, and Sierra Leone is in the middle of an outbreak that has stricken more than 300 and killed 92. One of the nurses died a few days ago. Her name was Sarah, and she got married last December. She was a few weeks pregnant.

Despite the danger facing these medical workers, they are being blamed for the disease by the public—a public so poorly informed about Ebola that many didn’t know of its existence before the outbreak began.

A few yards from the isolation facility lay the main wards of the Kenema Government Hospital. Many patients there fled after one of the nurses tested positive, headed for who knows where. And a couple of days after I visited, a colleague of mine watched relatives of Ebola patients pelt the hospital itself with stones. Confirmed Ebola cases are quarantined, and the attackers accused the nurses of sorcery and demanded their sick relatives be released to them — if they were dead, they said, they wanted the bodies to bury themselves. Such is the respect and reverence people have for the dead that the way Ebola victims are laid to rest is hard for most to stomach. Medics place them into a bag, and bury them without ceremony in a mass grave. The confrontation became so violent that police used tear gas to disperse the crowds, and have remained in and around the hospital since.

It is amazing—shocking—to see the denial of so many people here. Just 500 yards from the hospital, a group of revelers stood outside a video center (as cinemas are known here), pulling on cigarettes and even sharing the same butt. Backslapping and hugging having just come from the unventilated room. Sweating profusely in the 90-degree heat. There are other such video centers throughout Kenema, all over Sierra Leone. Beneath the veneer of that excitement and camaraderie lies the acrid reality that Ebola is tearing the country apart. The next day, at the Holy Trinity Secondary School, I saw scores of high school kids playing soccer. Some had removed their white uniforms to avoid them getting dirty, and their bodies glistened. The longer they played, the more they sweated, and the more dangerous the game became for them. But they were either oblivious to the dangers of a virus that can kill nine in 10, often by internal bleeding and organ failure, or they did not care.

Kenema hosts the only Ebola-testing laboratory in the country, one of the best in the world, run by the U.S.-based Metabiota and Tulane University. And yet some people here are even questioning the existence of the disease. At a roadside store selling candies and sodas, I talked with a high school student who gave his name only as Konneh. “Ebola is unreal,” he told me. He peeled a banana and guffawed before biting into it. “I have not seen anyone who has suffered from or died of it,” he said as he munched.

There are other conspiracy theories flying fast and thick. My mother fell ill last week, while I was on a short trip abroad. She was vomiting and needed to see a medic, but some of my relatives advised her against going to hospital. They had heard rumors of a desperate attempt to stem the spread of Ebola: patients with signs of the disease, which include symptoms as broad as fever, were being injected with poison by health workers. It was only after my return that I could persuade her to seek treatment.

Three days after the hospital was attacked—and more than a month after the outbreak began—President Ernest Bai Koroma finally ended his curious silence, and addressed the nation. He said that “the national efforts of patriotic citizens from all regions, all political parties and districts must not be derailed by a misguided few.” He added: “Anyone who knowingly harbors an Ebola victim without notifying health authorities is also guilty of an offense and we will ensure that the full penalty of the law is meted out on them.” But he fell short of declaring the disease a public health emergency, which would have put the country’s resources toward the fight, and he has yet to visit any of the areas affected.

Koroma’s slow response recalls the civil war of the 1990s. Like Ebola, it started abroad, in Liberia, and snaked across the border. The army was ill-prepared; war was strange to the soldiers; many ordinary people took it lightly—I dare say, scornfully. It was not until fighting reached Freetown that the government made a serious effort to end it. By then, tens of thousands were dead. With the casualties in neighboring countries, the death toll from the current Ebola outbreak has already topped 500, and figures keep rising every day. No one knows how many more have died outside of health facilities, or are mistakenly being treated for another disease. Médecins Sans Frontières, an aid organization, has described the situation in the region as “out of control.”

People who actually acknowledge the situation are uncertain about what to do now. At my wife’s church—she’s Catholic—the body of Christ as epitomized by bread is now dipped into wine by a glove-wearing priest. Handshakes have been minimized in mosques in this Muslim-dominated country. “It is the hard tradition-breaking sacrifices we have been forced to make,” a Friday worshiper told me. At one restaurant I visited, the owner had placed a bottle of chlorinated water at the door; everyone who entered was asked to wash their hands with it. But the chemical has become hard to find, and the owner of the restaurant told me that the price of chlorine has tripled.

Meanwhile, suspected Ebola patients are doing exactly what public health workers would like them not to do, which is to move around and potentially infect others. Almost 60 have disappeared after testing positive, officials say. “They may have died somewhere after infecting others,” one doctor told me, looking worried. One of the escapees was a man named Mohamed Swarray, who fled Kenema last month for Freetown, the capital, where he went into hiding. Police found him a week or so later, after he was spotted by someone who knew him in Kenema, and who had heard the announcements on local radio calling for information on his whereabouts. By then Swarray had visited a hospital in the capital, and may have infected the nurse who treated him. (The authorities are also on the lookout for his mother with whom he is believed to have escaped.)

I was standing outside the Kenema hospital when a new-looking ambulance raced into the hospital compound, sirens blaring. The driver wound down his window and asked shakily in a local language where the Ebola ward was. I pointed it out, and the driver meandered toward it, dodging the potholes made muddy by the country’s rainy season. I was curious as to how an ambulance in this part of the country could not know where the Ebola ward was, and suspected they must have come from Freetown. Moments later I saw Mohamed Swarray being guided to the isolation ward by a nurse in protective clothing. He looked hopeless and forlorn, as if he were being led to the gallows.

Beyond the health crisis, Ebola hits Liberia’s economy hard

Originally posted Aug 15 2014 – by Patrick Hettinger – African Development Bank – reposted

With over 400 deaths in Liberia and more than 1,000 across West Africa, the Ebola epidemic has been the deadliest in history and has spread fear and panic across the region. But beyond the terrifying health crisis, the Ebola outbreak threatens to reverse much of the economic and social progress Liberia has made over its decade of peace. While GDP growth had averaged over 8% since 2011, it was already forecast to slow down to 5.9% in 2014 due to slower growth in iron ore production, weak timber and rubber exports growth, and the gradual drawdown of the United Nations force (UNMIL). However, restrictions on transportation and commerce, the withdrawal of international workers, a slowdown of investment, and a panicked population will further reduce growth this year. Containing the crisis rapidly will be critical to preserve the progress made, and to reduce risks to the short- and medium-term outlook.

Government measures to control the spread of the virus, including the quarantine of communities, restrictions on travel between counties, sealing land borders, and the closure of major markets, have severely restricted trade within Liberia and with its neighbours. Free movement has also been restricted with all but two airlines suspending flights with Liberia. Additionally, public fear of the disease has led many consumers, traders and businesses to stay home or otherwise limit their activity and potential exposure. Families and communities with Ebola cases are stigmatized, and neighbours, drivers and traders avoid them. This is reducing the supply of food, other goods and services throughout the country. Reports that ships from Liberia are being blocked in Côte d’Ivoire would exacerbate this, especially for fuel supplies, which would have a severe impact on transportation and power availability.

Liberia imports more than 60% of the rice it consumes, but some areas are self-sufficient in rice production. One of the epicenters of the outbreak – Lofa county – produces around 20% of Liberia’s rice and largely meets its own rice demand while producing numerous other crops and trading with cross-border markets and Monrovia. However, some fields are being deserted, and after months of slower trade with Sierra Leone, there are already reports of food shortages and discussion of the need for food drops. Quarantine measures will further cut off rural areas and restrict trade with Monrovia.

The unprecedented spread to a major urban centre is changing local transportation. Taxis have reduced the number of passengers they will hold from six to four in order to reduce physical contact, while also nearly doubling the cost to passengers.

Consumers have stocked up on food and essential goods, pushing up their prices, but they are reducing their purchases of non-essential goods. The temporary closure of Government offices for all but core staff has reduced sales at shops and from traders in central Monrovia. This all contributes to lower incomes and worsening purchasing power, which affects Liberia’s poor the most.

Added to this is the large-scale departure of much of the substantial expatriate community and Liberians who had been gradually returning after the war. Not only will the country lose their skills in the private sector and donor projects, but the service economy that has developed to meet their higher incomes is suffering from a substantial drop in activity. Hotels and restaurants are increasingly vacant. One of Monrovia’s most popular hotels reports only a 30% occupancy rate, with the few remaining guests from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and similar health agencies. Real estate owners will suffer the impact slower, with many expatriates holding year-long leases paid up front.

The concessions sector, with some $16 billion in foreign direct investment commitments, has led aggregate growth in Liberia since the end of the war, but it has not escaped the crisis. Iron ore has been the largest export over the past two years due to production from the Arcelor Mittal mine.

While the company is continuing production and still expects to produce 5 million tonnes of iron ore this year, its expansion from 5 to 15 million tonnes by the end of 2015 has been delayed after the 15 contractors involved evacuated their 645 employees. China Union, which was expected to produce 500,000 tonnes of iron ore this year, has temporarily halted operations, following reports of six suspected cases of Ebola at its company-run hospital.

The palm oil sector has had similarly mixed activity. Golden Veroleum, with operations in Liberia’s southeast, which has so far largely avoided the Ebola outbreak, is continuing operations, while taking precautions and granting leave to some staff based in Monrovia. However, Sime Darby, whose activities are near several affected areas, is slowing operations, although it will continue paying its 3,000 workers.

Rubber production, Liberia’s second-leading export, has mostly continued activities, although recent Ebola cases in Kakata in the centre of the rubber production region could significantly slow production. Timber production, which has dropped since 2013 due to governance issues and transportation bottlenecks, is based in the largely unaffected southeast and could avoid a significant impact.

The economic slowdown is reducing Government receipts after already experiencing revenue shortfalls over the past year. Tax revenues were reduced by $12 million between April and June, and have fallen further since the end of July when the outbreak escalated. This will make it significantly more challenging to fund the Government’s proposed a $20.9-million emergency response plan, and its $559-million draft Fiscal Year 2014/15 Budget will have to be revised. The budget had increased security expenditure to offset the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown, which will be necessary considering the significant military activities involved in containing the outbreak. While the Government has one of largest payrolls as a percent of GDP in the region and there are serious deficiencies in the system, the payroll also provides income to around 40,000 households. Continuing to pay Government workers will be critical during the crisis to sustain economic activity. Potentially re-allocating some of the $18.25 million budgeted for District Development Funds could provide some needed fiscal space.

Slowing public and private investment could also affect medium-term growth. The evacuation of skilled staff and contractors and restricted movements, if prolonged, will delay existing investment projects, as is being seen with Arcelor Mittal and oil exploration. In light of the considerable uncertainty, the local business community is waiting to see how the situation evolves before making further investment and expansion, preferring to leave funds offshore in Lebanon or the United States. Slowing investment, especially from smaller businesses and on Government energy and roads projects, would reduce the prospects for employment-generating, inclusive growth.

The perception of a return to instability in the region may take years to overcome. Liberia has spent 10 years of peace working to move beyond the memories and reputation of its brutal civil war, but this episode will revive those memories and add an additional layer of stigma. This will not only affect investors and the broader international community, but also Liberians abroad. The Liberian diaspora had been gradually returning since the war, bringing skills and resources, but this crisis has seen many leave again. With their families often still residing in the United States, they may hesitate to return once again. This will reduce the middle class of the country, which is essential to develop the economy, as well as to rebuild Government services.

Perception is equally important for Liberians at home. Already distrustful of the medical system, a Government that continues to face governance challenges, and the international community, the likelihood of unrest will increase the longer the crisis unfolds, service provision is interrupted, and as the economic and social damage increases. With 78% of the labour force only holding “vulnerable employment” without assurance of a salary, the large number of subsistence farmers and traders relying on small margins – while owning only modest assets and little savings – will not be able to cushion the downturn easily. Stability had been their opportunity to make modest progress and to gradually transition towards longer term perspectives. The poor will be hit hardest by the lack of access to medical facilities for treatable illnesses, unnecessarily increasing hardship and mortality. With even schools closed and soccer matches cancelled, an otherwise restive youth has few distractions. An armed mob’s looting of an Ebola clinic in West Point, chanting “there is no Ebola!” is just one of many instances highlighting local suspicion and the potential for disorder. International support must move rapidly and decisively to contain the disease and mitigate its economic and social impact. The Ebola crisis has been terrifying, and while the economic damage may be less striking, it will affect many more lives and increase the fragility of a region that was eager to move beyond its history of conflict.

Quick updates since launching our emergency fund

By Britt Lake – Director of Programs, GlobalGiving

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ebola-epidemic-relief-fund/updates/

Imani House clinic, Liberia (credit: Imani House)

Imani House clinic, Liberia (credit: Imani House)

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has worsened over the past week. More than 1,600 people are reported to be infected with the virus and 887 have died from the disease, according to the latest figures released by the World Health Organization.

The Associated Press is reporting the second confirmed case of Ebola in Nigeria. A doctor in Lagos, Africa’s most populous city, contracted the virus after treating an Ebola victim who had traveled there from Liberia.

Britt Lake, our Director of Programs, joined Devin Thorpe fromGoodCrowd.info and Sylvester Renner of Develop Africa in a Google Hangout last Thursday to discuss Ebola and crowdfunding efforts to support aid organizations fighting the outbreak.

GlobalGiving is currently partnering with a range of aid groups on the ground in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. They urgently need your support to fund medical supplies for Ebola patients, protective equipment for doctors and educational campaigns to dispel myths surrounding the outbreak that are making it difficult to deliver care and stop transmission of the virus.

You can learn more about our nonprofit partners being supported through this fund at http://www.globalgiving.org/ebola.

Work continues under state of emergency

By Scott MacMillan – Communications and Outreach, BRAC USA

Via GlobalGiving http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/stop-ebola-equip-health-workers/updates/

BRAC sending disinfectant, gloves

BRAC sending disinfectant, gloves

Work continues under emergency circumstances by BRAC in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. During an initial, intensive outreach campaign by community health promoters, funded in part by GlobalGiving donors, local health workers spread the word, aided by posters and flyers, about the steps people can take to stop the virus’s spread. Communities are better equipped as a result.

Since then, the rapid spread of the disease has pushed us into a new phase. Most of our staff of 907 – the vast majority of whom are Liberians and Sierra Leoneans, with a small contingent of Bangladeshis from BRAC headquarters in Dhaka – are now on paid leave. With both countries under state of emergency, widespread person-to-person contact, normally the best method of spreading health awareness in remote communities, is no longer advisable.

A core crew remains at country offices, supporting authorities in prevention efforts. We continue to push out Ebola-related messaging that doesn’t require direct contact or group meetings. In Sierra Leone, we are pushing our public service announcements via radio in three local languages – Krio, Mende and Temne – airing in all 12 districts of Sierra Leone. We’ve also provide items like soap, chlorine, buckets with attached taps, surgical gloves, phenolic disinfectant and and face masks, to be directed by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to the most severely seriously affected areas. We require further funding to continue this work. 

Links:

Report: Dogs Eating Dead Bodies Of Ebola Victims On Liberian Streets

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta/AP) — Dogs in one community in Liberia are reportedly eating the remains of dead Ebola victims lying on the streets.

The New Dawn reports that the Liberian government buried bodies of those suspected to have died from Ebola a few weeks ago in Johnsonville Township, outside of Monrovia. A number of dogs were reportedly seen pulling the bodies out of the graves and eating the remains.

Alfred Wiah tells The New Dawn that the government’s Health Ministry was called about the incident but that officials did not do anything about it.

“We are very disappointed in the Health Ministry, especially the government that took an oath to defend and protect us. To see them act in such manner is unacceptable and we’ll never allow the government come to bury any longer,” Wiah told The New Dawn. “They will be resisted by us because I think the government has failed to protect us. Why bring Ebola bodies and not bury them well?”

Dr. Stephen Korsman of the University of Cape Town’s medical virology division tells News 24 that dogs can be infected with the Ebola virus but that “infections appear to be asymptomatic.”

“This means that dogs won’t get sick, but they still could carry a potential risk through licking or biting,”