Desperate Demand for Ebola Treatment in Sierra Leone; Five People Infected Every Hour

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Save the Children is supporting Health Workers like Marian and local health centers in Sierra Leone.
Esther*, 9, whose community has been affected by the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Community Health Worker Marian told Esther's * family to wash their hands regularly and avoid physical contact with others to minimize the risk of contracting Ebola. Save the Children supports Health Workers and local area health centers. Photo by Dan Stewart/ Save the Children. (* indicates name has been changed to protect identity.)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Oct. 1, 2014) — The demand for treatment beds and nurses to halt the rapid spread of Ebola across Sierra Leone is far outstripping supply, according to Save the Children.

An estimated 765[1] new cases were reported last week — a rate of five every hour - while there are only 327 beds in the country. The critical shortage comes as untold numbers of children are dying anonymously at home or in the streets, meaning the scale of the problem is massively unreported.

Ebola is spreading across Sierra Leone at a terrifying rate, with the number of new cases recorded doubling every few weeks. At the current rate, 10 people every hour will be infected with Ebola in the country before the end of October. Even as health authorities get on top of the outbreak in one area, it breaks out in another. In the Port Loko district, cases have risen five-fold in the last month[2].

Even with the 700 new beds pledged by the UK government, unless the international community radically steps up its response, people will continue to die at home, infecting their families and wider community.

"We are facing the frightening prospect of an epidemic which is spreading like wildfire across Sierra Leone, with the number of new cases doubling every three weeks. Children, more than anyone, are suffering painful, anonymous and undignified deaths at home. It's very difficult at this stage to even give accurate figures on the number of children who are dying from Ebola, as monitoring systems cannot keep pace with the outbreak," said Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children's country director in Sierra Leone.

Save the Children is working with the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) and its Ministry of Defence to build and run a 100-bed treatment center in Sierra Leone, as well as supporting an Interim Care Center in Kailahun for children who have lost their families to Ebola.

Save the Children is also working to address the Ebola epidemic in Guinea and Liberia. This week, President & CEO Carolyn Miles is visiting Liberia, where Save the Children recently built a treatment unit and is working to help prevent the spread of the disease and address the needs of children who have been impacted.

[1] Based on Sierra Leone Ministry of Health figures which show 306 new cases were reported in the week to Wednesday 1st October. This is then multiplied by 2.5 to take into account underreporting, according to CDC guidelines.
[2] According to Ministry of Health figures from August 30th and September 30th.

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