6 June 2014
For further information contact:
HMakiwa@redcross.org.uk / 0207 877 7479
Red Cross uses SMS texts and mobile technology to raise awareness of outbreak
The Ebola strain is extremely virulent, has no cure or vaccine
The British Red Cross has deployed a health delegate to Sierra Leone in response to the increasing number of Ebola cases in West Africa.
The delegate joins a four-person-strong Emergency Response team that will offer expert support to staff and volunteers with the Sierra Leone Red Cross and government authorities in Freetown.
Ben Webster, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: “Reports of new infections in Freetown and Guinea have prompted us to send additional support to the region to compliment existing Red Cross emergency operations in Sierra Leone and five other West African countries responding to the outbreak.
“Ebola is a deadly and highly infectious virus, but its spread can be controlled. The British Red Cross health delegate will be an essential part of the response team and will lend their expertise to the efforts.”
The Red Cross in Sierra Leone has been collaborating with the Ministry of Health and telecomms company Airtel, in using an innovative SMS mobile text system called the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA) to communicate messages about Ebola prevention, and respond to the outbreak.
Sierra Leone is one of six countries in the throes of a virulent Ebola outbreak which began in neighbouring Guinea in March (2014), and has spread to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana and Mali.
According to the World Health Organization there have been 50 clinical cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) in Sierra Leone, including 6 deaths. Guinea's Ministry of Health, meanwhile reports that there have been over 290 EHF cases since the outbreak began, including 193 deaths.
The Ebola virus causes a severe acute viral illness often characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, headache, vomiting, profuse bleeding and muscle pain. 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)
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.