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Helping Children Survive the Deadly Ebola Outbreak in Africa
Children need your support of our Ebola's Children Relief Fund to reach more people at risk of Ebola, help save more lives and protect Ebola's orphans. Your support will combat the largest Ebola outbreak in history. Our goal is to reach over 3.5 million people.
The Emergency:West Africa's Ebola outbreak continues to accelerate and remains largely unchecked in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the situation in the three countries is continuing to deteriorate, with widespread and persistent transmission of the disease. The most recent total number of confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola worldwide was almost 9,000, with almost 4,500 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ebola could affect as many as 1.4 million people by early 2015.
Save the Children has had a strong presence in West Africa for years and responds to children affected by the region's disasters and wars. We are working around the clock in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to help stem the spread of the virus and check its catastrophic impact on children and their families. To date, we have reached 1.3 million people, including almost 169,000 children through direct and indirect responses.
We are training health workers, teaching people how to limit the risks to themselves and their families, distributing protective kits, and providing much- needed medical equipment. Our teams are providing psychosocial support to survivors and helping child welfare committees address the urgent needs of unaccompanied children. We are also working to contain transmission through the construction of hospital-like treatment units and the construction and management of community-based care centers.
Save the Children is implementing an integrated response strategy that focuses not only on slowing the rate of Ebola transmission and providing care for Ebola patients but also addresses children's health, protection, education and nutrition. This strategy differentiates us from many other international aid agencies in West Africa, and is what enables us to work on many fronts for children during a crisis of this magnitude.
More About the Ebola Outbreak
Across the region, there are 22.3 million people living in areas where Ebola transmission has occurred. Liberia is believed to be the nation most severely impacted—Ebola has surfaced in all of its 15 counties and some 49 percent of all cases are in that country. Women, because of their traditional role as caregivers, are bearing the brunt of the disease burden and make up an estimated 75% of all cases.
The Impact on Children and Families
Children are always among the most vulnerable in an emergency. Across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, an estimated 10.3 million children and adolescents under age 18 are directly or indirectly affected.
Children and their families, whether infected or affected, are being exposed to extreme distress due to loss, family separation, isolation and overall disruption of society. Our child protection teams have reported community cohesion is deteriorating due to negative perceptions, rumors and lack of clear information on the outbreak and the response, which are contributing to children's anxieties. Confinement to homes, seeing health workers dressed in protective gear and witnessing the suffering of family members are especially frightening to children. Stigma and fear within communities further contributes to isolation of children whose families are directly affected by Ebola.
We are also deeply concerned about children's access to health care and their nutrition. Already weak health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are collapsing under the strain of the outbreak; the closing of health facilities has left many communities without access to medical care for common, treatable illnesses, immunizations and maternal and reproductive health care. As a result, Ebola is reversing considerable gains that had been made in recent years, especially in Liberia, to curb maternal and child deaths.
School closures are impacting children's education as they lose out on critical months of learning. Over 3.5 million children are out of school due to protracted closures. History shows us that once a crisis forces children out of school, many children never return and instead become at risk of child labor or other exploitative situations.