Friday, November 7, 2014

Aid agencies adapt to Ebola challenge

IRIN: From using Bitcoins to fundraise, to adopting new strategies to prevent malaria victims appearing to be Ebola cases, to working with new partners - aid agencies in West Africa are learning to adapt fast. "The response to every humanitarian crisis has to be context specific," said Nigel Clarke, the director of programme development and quality for Save the Children's operations in Liberia. "That's the key standard that humanitarian agencies utilize in all crises. But this Ebola crisis is unprecedented because of all the associated risks of cross infection."

Humanitarian workers, for example, would normally want to bring people together during times of crises, to do things such as spread key messages, distribute food and other supplies, and sit down with communities in groups to discuss needs, Clarke said.  "But a lot of those things are not possible in this context and so we are having to sort of adapt as we go."

In order to help get the outbreak under control, they have now branched out and partnered with the governments of Sierra Leone, Cuba and the UK, as well as other health agencies and workers, to establish and run a treatment centre in Freetown's Kerry Town.  The new, 100-bed Ebola Treatment Unit is the first time that Save the Children has ever worked on a global health emergency in this capacity.

"We're all in a place now where we never thought we would be," said Rob MacGillivray, Save the Children's country manager in Sierra Leone. "In the past, we never considered direct case management, but eventually the outbreak overtook us and now we've had to fight this battle in a way we've never fought a humanitarian battle in the past."....

An ebola virus particle, shot by NIAID, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license

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