Ebola-Affected Children are Hardest to Treat, Save the Children Warns, as Death Toll Nears 1,000

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Eileen Burke 203.216.0718 (M)
Francine Uenuma 202.450.9153 (M)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Aug. 8, 2014) — Due to the increasing scale of the Ebola crisis and the specific difficulties of treating infected children, Save the Children is rapidly scaling up their response to the West African outbreak.

Rob MacGillivray, Regional Humanitarian Director currently in Sierra Leone, said:

"This is the largest Ebola outbreak the world has ever seen and the region is struggling to cope. Before the crisis there was less than three doctors for every 100,000 people across both Sierra Leone and Liberia*, so the health systems are now overwhelmed.

"Parents are understandably frightened and stay away from medical centers through fear of coming into contact with the infection. Pregnant mothers are giving birth at home rather than seeking skilled help and orphaned children are at risk of being ostracized from their communities at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Challenges remain in reaching families in rural communities who were struggling to access healthcare even before the outbreak.

"We need to work with local healthcare providers and governments to ensure that all children across the region are getting the care they need. Children who are diagnosed with Ebola need specific treatment and it is vital that specialized health care is designed and implemented to meet their needs. Children who have lost loved ones will suffer stigma and trauma and that is why it is so important to communicate the reality of the illness — which can be prevented with simple measures. It is critical that families trust the medical system and present at the first signs of symptoms. In many cases this could mean the difference between life and death and is certainly key to containing the outbreak."

*Statistics taken from: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/3/08-051599-table-T1.html

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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