-The current Ebola outbreak is the deadliest ever. It is spreading fast with over 40 per cent of the total number of cases seen within the past few weeks. As of 3 September, the countries affected by the current outbreak of Ebola, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, have reported about 3,500 cases and 1,900 deaths.
-There are 4.5 million children under the age of five living in areas affected by the Ebola virus. Children who have lost one or both of their parents to Ebola face the risk of growing up without proper care or having to fend for themselves. They may also experience distress from witnessing the death or suffering of their parents or relatives, or face stigma and discrimination from their own families and communities.
-Children are also affected by the severe disruption of basic health care in the Ebola affected countries, with highest impact in Liberia where almost all health facilities are now fully closed or only partially functional.
-In Sierra Leone, according to the Department of Health, children dying from treatable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea could outstrip those from Ebola three or four times, due to people’s fear of seeking treatment at medical facilities.
-Essential social services such as health and nutrition, water and sanitation, HIV prevention and treatment, and child protection programmes will require special attention so that already vulnerable families can be better protected.
-UNICEF is working closely with the governments and the World Health Organization to provide health workers with protective equipment, and medical and hygiene supplies.
-Since early August, a total of 402 metric tonnes (MT) of essential items were delivered to the major affected countries, in 32 shipments. Of the total, 70.6 MT were flown in to Guinea, 213.8 MT to Liberia and 117.7 MT to Sierra Leone.
-Topping the list are protective equipment like latex gloves and masks for health workers, concentrated chlorine disinfectant, antibiotics, pain relief medicines and intravenous fluids and equipment.
-UNICEF will also begin sending 50,000 household protection kits to Liberia. The kits are designed for families caring for their relatives at home and contain a range of protective items such as sprayers, chlorine, gloves and garbage bags.
-Emergency airlifts are expected to continue while a steady pipeline is established to bring supplies into countries by sea.
-UNICEF is addressing lack of understanding and stigma through social mobilization efforts, as well as providing information to enhance the safety and awareness of communities and those responding. This includes raising awareness in communities to reinforce messages of hygiene practices, how the virus is transmitted, safe handling and burial of the deceased, and how to take care of sick family members, how to feed affected infants and young children.
-Specific activities supported by UNICEF to raise awareness include
‧Door to door information campaigns
‧Using local radio and television broadcasts, and mobile phone messaging
‧Working with religious and community leaders, as well as youth and women’s groups