UNICEF airlifts 68 tonnes of supplies to Liberia, ramping up Ebola response

UNICEF airlifts 68 tonnes of supplies to Liberia, ramping up Ebola response

11:31
On 17 June 2014 in Iraq, (foreground) UNICEF Senior Supply/Logistics Assistant Kasim Muhamad supervises the loading of UNICEF emergency supplies onto an aeroplane at the airport in the northern-eastern city of Erbil in Kurdistan Region. The supplies, which include tents, blankets, hygiene and recreation kits, and education materials, are part of a shipment of 33 metric tons of emergency relief items earmarked for children and families displaced by violence and fighting that first erupted in the city of Mosul on 5 June. Up to 1 million people are currently estimated displaced, including about 500,000 Mosul residents – up to half of whom are children. UNICEF and partners are working to meet the rapidly rising needs of those affected by the worsening crisis. Immediate priorities include safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, as well as critical emergency immunization to prevent the spread of diseases such as polio, which has re-emerged in Iraq this year, and measles.
MONROVIA/ HONG KONG, 23 August 2014 – A cargo plane carrying 68 metric tonnes of health and hygiene supplies from UNICEF landed in Monrovia early Saturday morning, bringing urgently needed supplies to combat the worst Ebola outbreak in global history.
Today’s shipment, from UNICEF’s global supply hub in Copenhagen, contained basic emergency items for front-line health workers to protect themselves and prevent the spread of infection. They included 27 metric tonnes of concentrated chlorine for disinfection and water purification and 450,000 pairs of latex gloves. Also on board were supplies of intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts and ready-to-use therapeutic food to feed patients undergoing treatment.
© UNICEF Liberia/2014
The flight was met in Monrovia by representatives of UNICEF and Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Supplies will be distributed to health facilities nationwide, many of which lack basic health care materials. Coupled with a shortage of manpower, this has left thousands of Liberians without access to treatment and essential health care.
“UNICEF has been a friend and partner to Liberia for decades and has seen us through some of our darkest days,” said Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Minister of Health and Social Welfare and national incidence manager for the Ebola response in Liberia. “We are extremely grateful for these supplies, which will help us to begin disinfecting, resupplying and reopening clinics and hospitals so that they can resume providing essential health services to Liberians.”
As of Friday, 20 August, there have been over 1,000 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Liberia, with 613 deaths linked to the outbreak. In part the rapid spread of the disease is due to the country’s weakened health care system, which had been seriously damaged by years of civil war.

© UNICEF Liberia/2014
“Basic health care cannot be Ebola’s next casualty,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s Liberia Country Representative. “UNICEF has been working on multiple fronts since the beginning of the outbreak to provide critically needed supplies as well arming communities with the information they need to stop the spread of the disease. This shipment will complement those efforts with a new surge of supplies to equip health facilities, support infection control, and protect health workers on the front lines.”
The supplies delivered this morning, were procured and delivered with support from USAID’s Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team, which is coordinating US government efforts to stop the spread of Ebola.
“We are facing the most devastating Ebola outbreak in history,” said USAID Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader Tim Callaghan. “It will take a coordinated global effort to bring this under control. For months, we have been working with UNICEF to ensure that medical equipment and critical messages are getting to the people and places that need it most.”
Next week, UNICEF will airlift additional health supplies on behalf of the Government of Liberia made possible through funding from the World Bank. UNICEF will also be helping the government to assess the country’s supply chain capacity, which has been weakened by the crisis
UNICEF has already provided over US$2 million in material and technical support, including:
• health supplies;
• protective gear for health workers;
• chlorine, sprayers and other water, sanitation and hygiene equipment to support infection control;
• motorcycles and other logistical support to enable community health workers and other partners to move around the communities.
UNICEF is also deploying teams of traditional communicators to spread prevention messaging in communities across Liberia, and producing print communications and radio programming to raise public awareness of the outbreak.