23 April 2014
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Henry Makiwa 0207 877 7479/ HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk
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The British Red Cross has deployed a second member of staff to Liberia in response to the Ebola outbreak as over 2 million people are warned, by text message, of the dangers of the disease.
Already, the Red Cross has launched emergency operations in six West African countries in response to the outbreak. Red Cross volunteers across the region are being mobilised to work in the affected regions to step up emergency communications and raise awareness among communities of how to prevent the spread of the virus.
In Sierra Leone, the Red Cross, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Airtel, is using an innovative SMS mobile text system called the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA) to communicate messages of Ebola prevention and respond to the outbreak.
Paul Jenkins, head of International Partnership Development at the British Red Cross, who responded to the 2002 Ebola outbreak in Congo Brazzaville said, “To our advantage, we now know that epidemics can be stopped. And the principle is always the same: isolating suspected patients to prevent them from giving the disease to people around them and scaling up our education and awareness campaigns.
“In a proactive move, the Sierra Leone Red Cross is using SMS messaging to raise awareness about Ebola prevention. In a short space of time, we have reached more than 2 million people through their mobile phones, with advice on how they can protect themselves and their families from the virus."
Red Cross teams, together with local government authorities, community leaders and other aid agencies, are also taking to the streets and villages daily, educating the public on how to respond to the outbreak in affected communities across West Africa.
In addition to sending delegates to the region, the British Red Cross has pledged £35,000 towards an emergency appeal to support more than 3 million people in at-risk communities in Guinea. Funds have also been released from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support awareness-raising activities in the neighbouring countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Senegal.
The Ebola virus causes a severe acute viral illness often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and diarrhoea and vomiting. The hallmark of the disease is profuse bleeding. There is no cure or vaccine for the disease.
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Notes to editors
The British Red Cross’ Paul Jenkins is available for interviews on his experiences from the 2002 Congo Brazzaville Ebola outbreak
For interviews, photography, case studies or more information, please contact Henry Makiwa (HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk 0207 877 7479)
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The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.