-The scale of the ongoing outbreak is unprecedented, with approximately 1,603 confirmed and suspected cases reported, and 887 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria since March 2014.
-It is the largest in terms of geographical areas already affected and others at immediate risk of further spread.
-It is taking place in areas with fluid population movements over porous borders, and it has demonstrated its ability to spread via air travel, contrary to what has been seen in past outbreaks. Cases are occurring in rural areas which are difficult to access, but also in densely populated capital cities.
UNICEF continues to provide protective equipment and medical supplies, including disinfection and hygiene supplies, to hospitals and to the families of health workers for their protection. 750 imams have been equipped with Communication for Development (C4D) materials, and trained to include Ebola information in their sermons in the mosques. The religious affairs secretariat requested all imams to make sermons in the mosques about Ebola. UNICEF has also trained and provided social mobilization materials to priests, boy scouts and other groups to disseminate Ebola prevention messages, and is working with more than 15 national NGOs for social mobilization including in remote rural areas of the country. TV spots on hand washing, thousands of flyers for mass distribution and radio and TV discussions on Ebola have been produced to sensitize populations. As a result, over 3.2 million people have been sensitized in the affected areas in Guinea so far.
As Ebola cases re-emerged in late May and early June, UNICEF has scaled up C4D activities. Through WASH partners, UNICEF recruited and trained an additional 130 animators to conduct Ebola awareness and outreach in five of the nine Ebola-affected counties. In Lofa County, two field coordinators and a team of interpersonal communication experts continue to work with traditional local communicators to raise Ebola awareness at the community level by engaging traditional chiefs, religious leaders and community groups.
Since June, 180 senior Muslim and Christian religious leaders and 60 youth leaders have been mobilized to further assist in awareness raising. Together with partners, two Ebola songs have been developed that are now airing on national and local radio stations. Assistance was provided with Ebola jingles and spot messages to promote key behavioral changes and combat denial and harmful traditional practices. To support all of these activities over the last month, UNICEF printed posters and flipcharts, which have been distributed all over Liberia. In addition, UNICEF contributed the following to the Ministry of Health: two jeeps, two cholera kits, four tents for use in treatment units, 15 hospitals beds with mattresses and bed sheets, 500 digital thermometers, 250 pairs of heavy duty gloves and 5,000 pairs of exam gloves, 15 sprayers, 15 buckets with faucets, 150 pairs of safety goggles and 1,800 bars of soap.
UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to intensify Social Mobilization campaigns in all 13 districts through community engagement and mobilization via street-to-street announcements, house-to-house mobilization, and awareness-raising using announcements from vehicles. Posters, FAQs, key messages on Ebola, factsheets are distributed during sensitization campaigns. Questions and concerns raised by communities are clarified using an interactive communication strategy. A special prime-timeslot has been secured during which all 40 radio stations around the country will transmit a programme on Ebola awareness and prevention.
A UNICEF team from Abuja is currently on the ground supporting the Lagos Field Office to plan and start implementing activities in support of the local authorities to contain the spread of the virus. A workshop is being held to better understand household and community risk, behavior and attitude for improved messaging, implementation of C4D focused containment strategy in Lagos through community dialogue and social mobilization, airing of jingles and finalization of the state response plan.