8 September 2014
Red Cross workers are “stretched to the limit” as the Ebola outbreak gets worse.
More than 1,900 people have now died from the virulent disease, according to the World Health Organisation.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which is working across West Africa, is increasing its relief effort, but it has only 62 per cent of the funds needed to fight the epidemic.
The British Red Cross has launched an emergency Ebola Outbreak Appeal.
Together with the IFRC, we are completing construction of an isolation facility in Kenema, Sierra Leone. The new facility will ease overcrowding in other health facilities and help save lives.
The outbreak, which is the worst in history, has hit five countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.
Ben Webster, British Red Cross disaster response manager, said: “It is not an overstatement to say that this outbreak is stretching our capacity in terms of funding and personnel.
“We are seeking as much support as possible from the international community, the corporate world and the public.”
National Red Cross Societies in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have trained 1,800 volunteers to help fight the Ebola outbreak.
Elhadj As Sy, the new secretary general of the IFRC, recently visited Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“In recent months, Red Cross volunteers have been working hard, assisting with dead body management, tracing those who had been in contact with patients, providing psychological support and conducting preventive education at community level.
“Their capacity is stretched to the limit, and they are literally exhausted.
“Fear, misconceptions and stigmatization fuel a vicious cycle that hampers an effective response at community level. This cycle can only be broken with a sustained mobilization from us all, in close collaboration with affected communities.”
Mr Sy also supported calls for greater intervention from the international community.
“The IFRC fully supports – and echoes – the call from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) for the international community to urgently deploy bio-disaster facilities to the region to respond effectively to the epidemic,” he said.
The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in March. It has a fatality rate of about 50 per cent.