Ebola is one of the world's deadliest viruses, with a fatality rate of up to 90%
As there is no known cure, and no vaccine, the best way to contain the outbreak is to educate people to recognise the symptoms early, as the risk of transmission is far lower in the early stages of the virus.
Save the Children is increasingly concerned about the situation and is working in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali alongside their respective health ministries, both to train medical staff on preventive measures and supply medical equipment for hospitals. Key to our response is training community health workers to recognise the symptoms of the virus and refer potential sufferers to immediate medical care.
The Ebola virus can only be passed on by direct contact with bodily fluids of an affected person or animal (such as urine, sweat or blood); therefore simply raising awareness can stop an Ebola outbreak. This is why Save the Children’s work in Sierra Leone focuses on raising community awareness about the disease - so that people understand how the virus is transmitted, recognise the symptoms of those who are infected and are empowered to take action to prevent the spread. We know that by raising awareness of the symptoms of Ebola, we can both reduce the spread of this disease and better care for those suffering from it.
Case study 1: Francis Vandy Rogers, Community Health Worker in Sierra Leone
Francis Vandy Rogers is a wood worker by trade, who has been trained by Save the Children to become a Community Health Worker (CHW).
Every forenoon he goes to work carrying his essential tools: a tool box and a first aid kit. During the day people from his community visit him to get primary health treatment.
“Usually when they come for treatment I’d leave the woodwork, get my hands washed and attend to them - then I get back to work,” says Francis.
As part of our Ebola prevention work, Save the Children in Sierra Leone is training over 1,700 community health workers. Together they will cover all the chiefdoms in Kailahun and Pujehun, raising awareness of Ebola prevention and appropriate emergency response to suspected cases.
Francis says the training is vital and quotes a local saying, “Korglor yia laygor eh kpokowa” (translation: Information about an impending war can save the aged from being killed).
"I learnt a lot about the prevention of this disease, and I’m going to sensitize my community members seriously about it.
"First, we are going to ask the town chief to call all the people to a meeting so that we can have the opportunity to sensitize everybody. Then we will continue with one on one sensitization and in the event of a suspected case, we will immediately report to the health centre."
Case study 2: Lansana Fofanah, Community Health Worker in Sierra Leone
Lansana Fofanah is a farmer and a qualified Community Health Worker. Lansana usually reserves a daylight or two in a week to do his community health services.
Lansana has received training on Ebola virus prevention awareness and emergency preparedness to sensitize his society people and feels the training gives him the power to save the lives of his fellow society members.
“This training is very good and I consider it as an empowerment to save lives in our communities. Because prevention is the best solution to this Ebola disease. I have also learnt about the causes; its signs and symptoms when someone is infected. We should always refer the Ebola patient immediately to the PHU to avoid its transfer to another person in the community.
"I am going to call my community people to a meeting and I will explain to them the dangers of this disease. Because this Ebola does not have medicine and the only solution is prevention, we must abide by all the preventive regulations such as stop eating wild animals and even fruits that have been eaten by these animals. Through this we can prevent the Ebola in our communities.”
Actually,’’PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.’’