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As Liberia marks end of Ebola transmission, UNICEF highlights need for better services for children

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0552/Irwin
A boy washes his hands – a safety protocol to prevent the spread of Ebola - at the Slipway primary school in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.

MONROVIA, Liberia, 3 September 2015 – UNICEF today welcomed the announcement that Liberia has once again achieved zero Ebola transmission, and expressed hope that the country will now be able to focus on recovering from the outbreak, which has taken a severe toll on the lives of thousands of children and their communities.

“The past 17 months have been a terrifying period for children and their families,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s Representative in Liberia.  “Even before this outbreak, Liberian children had limited access to quality health, education and social services. Too many children were not in school, and without quality health, sanitation or social services. We now have an even steeper hill to climb.”

More than 4,500 children lost one or both parents or primary caregivers to Ebola in Liberia, according to Government data. The total figure is over 19,300 in the three worst affected countries, which also include Guinea and Sierra Leone. Many more were affected in some way or another, being quarantined, watching loved ones die, losing out months of schooling or being unable to access health services, which were overwhelmed during the outbreak.

“Our focus now is on improving access to education, health and other services at the community level, and to ensure Liberia is better equipped to face future health threats, be it measles, pertussis or Ebola,”  said Yett.

UNICEF is supporting efforts to strengthen health systems in Liberia, with a strong focus on improving access to community health facilities, routine immunization, increasing nutrition, as well as ensuring better water, sanitation and hygiene systems in health facilities and schools. UNICEF is also providing learning and teaching materials to help ease the burden on parents sending their children to school, reconstructing schools, and supporting the expansion of social services and efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality.

Liberia was first declared free of Ebola transmission on 9 May – having gone 42 days without any case – but new cases emerged again the following month.

A rapid response to this most recent outbreak by the Government of Liberia and numerous partners, including UNICEF and communities, resulted in the spread of Ebola being quickly contained, patients treated, and the dead being buried according to strict safety protocols. The last patient with Ebola was released from hospital on 23 July.

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Photos and video can be downloaded from: http://uni.cf/1xZAb39

 About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit www.unicef.org.

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For further information please contact:
Rukshan Ratnam, UNICEF Liberia. rratnam@unicef.org, +231 770 267 110
Alvina Lim, UNICEF Liberia, alim@unicef.org. +231 770 267 938
Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF Regional Office West and Central Africa, Dakar, Senegal lduvillier@unicef.org + 22133 869 58 58 ext 642
Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York msharpe@unicef.org +1 917-251-7670


 

 

 

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