Francine Uenuma 202.450.9153 (M)
Phil Carroll 267.992.6356 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Sept. 27, 2014) — A 70-bed Save the Children-built treatment center has now opened its doors in Liberia and is being run by the International Medical Corps (IMC).
Bong county – where the centre is located – is one of the five counties in Liberia worst affected by the outbreak, which experts claim could infect up to 1.4 million lives by January.
"We only have a few weeks to stop the spread of the disease spiralling out of control and, for those affected, it's imperative that care and treatment are made more widely available", says Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director for Save the Children in Liberia.
"Beds available in treatment units are not keeping up with demand, and infected people, including children, are being turned away because these are full beyond capacity. It's tragic that in some areas people are being left to die in the streets, in undignified and deplorable conditions, while no one dare approach them", Mercy continues.
Save the Children is to build another Ebola treatment unit in Margibi county, which is also heavily affected by the outbreak. These treatment units include safe isolation wards and provide expert medical assessments, care and treatment until the patient's death or recovery. They will also reduce pressure on mainstream healthcare services, which outside of Monrovia, have almost all shut down because of the deadly toll they have had on healthcare personnel.
"Since August, 20 healthcare workers have died in Margibi alone after they were infected with Ebola. Nursing staff and teams were not sufficiently aware of how to identify Ebola and lacked the protective equipment to assess and treat them safely."
In addition, Save the Children will open an additional 10 Ebola care units in Liberia. These differ from the more conventional Ebola treatment centres because they are faster to build, less resource intensive and employ locally-trained staff who are able to assess patients and detect if anyone has the early stages of Ebola. Such care units can be rapidly set up in hot spots for the disease, while facilitating assessment of people presenting with symptoms.
"Ebola care units complement treatment centres, and will be closely monitored and evaluated. This approach will help ensure more people can be assessed quickly and start treatment. They will also train one family member to safely help care for them, reducing the trauma of family separation at such a painful and frightening time."
"What we urgently need now however are more trained healthcare professionals to support the international response, as well as the financial resources to get this right and curb the rapid progress of the disease."
Notes to editors:
- Liberia is the country worst affected by the Ebola crisis so far, with over 3,360 people who've been infected, of whom over half, nearly 1,770, have died.
- The Ebola Treatment Centre was successfully handed over to the International Medical Corps (IMC) to run, and opened its doors on the 15th September.
- The Ebola Care Units approach, approved by the World Health Organisation, was brainstormed by Save the Children's Senior Health Adviser Francesco Checchi and Prof. Ron Waldman, Team Leader, Ebola Response Team for Save the Children in the US, Jesse Hartness, Director of Emergency Health at Save the Children US, David Wightwick, Operations Manager at Save the Children International and Abraham Varampath, Senior WASH Adviser at Save the Children in India. Ebola Care units will be set up in various parts of the country, depending on where hot spots develop.
- Save the Children is rapidly scaling up its response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Liberia, its teams are working in Monrovia and in four out of five of the worst affected counties, helping orphaned or separated children, providing emotional and psychosocial support to children and families, building treatment centres, care units and water and sanitation facilities, as well as carrying out prevention campaigns in communities and on national radios.
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