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Ebola response © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0970/Bindra

Ebola response

UNICEF is appealing for over US$500 million to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, through to the end of 2015.

Response countries requirements: US$451,000,000

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At risk countries preparedness requirements: US$34,446,241

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People at risk: 18.7 million (total population in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone)

Children and young people under age of 20 at risk in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone: 9.8 million including 2.9 million children under 5

Ebola has taken a dramatic toll on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing thousands, affecting livelihoods, disrupting public services, putting education on hold and threatening the development progress achieved in recent years. As of 30 June 2015, over 27,500 Ebola cases have been reported, of whom over 6,000 are children. Since the start of the outbreak more than 11,200 people have lost their lives to the virus.

From January to June 2015, a total of 7,300 new cases were reported with more than 3,300 deaths. Across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, 9 million children and youth under 20 years of age live in Ebola-affected areas, of whom 2.5 million are under the age of five. Although, the outbreak has slowed across West Africa, getting to zero in all three countries remains a priority. Liberia was recently announced free of Ebola transmission for the second time, while Guinea reported two new cases in September. The continued re-emergence of the virus demonstrates the fragility of the situation and the importance of intensifying efforts to eliminate the disease once and for all.

Humanitarian Strategy (July to December 2015)

UNICEF Priority Areas

  • Social mobilization and community engagement
  • Infection prevention and control and access to safe water and sanitation in communities, health centres and schools
  • Child protection and psychosocial support for children affected by EVD
  • Access to health services, Ebola-related supplies and training of health workers
  • Revitalization of basic services
  • Ebola preparedness and prevention activities

UNICEF’s strategy continues to focus on supporting communities to combat the transmission and impact of Ebola.

Social mobilization and community engagement continues to be central to the response in delivering key messages and promoting safer practices. Mass sensitization campaigns continue, particularly in areas that have not seen cases for a number of weeks to maintain vigilance and awareness. Engagement with communities in high risk areas has become more refined, with a stronger focus on the use of anthropological data to understand drivers of behaviour in affected communities. Community leaders and traditional healers are being supported to take leadership roles in protecting their communities and in developing Community Action Plans.

In the early phase of UNICEF’s response, the establishment of Community Care Centres (CCCs) in all three countries was a priority, providing early isolation, health and nutritional care to patients. As the number of cases has reduced, this strategy has been adapted to a rapid response model that allows for the swift deployment of teams and equipment wherever an Ebola case emerges.

The impact on children goes beyond infection rates with over 18,000 children having lost one parent or both, or their primary care giver. Working with local communities, churches and mosques, UNICEF and partners will continue to help locate family members willing to care for those children in need. Families will continue to be supported with cash transfers and care packages, which include food, clothing and hygiene kits. Counselling is being provided to children whose communities have been impacted by the outbreak.

Following the re-opening of schools earlier this year, UNICEF will continue to monitor the adherence to safety protocols and to provide, or re-stock, schools with hygiene kits, infection prevention supplies and learning materials to support the new school term later this year. A growing number of teachers are being trained in Ebola safety and in psychosocial support.

Infection prevention and control through the provision of hygiene kits, clean water (either through trucking or the establishment of water points) and sanitation to communities and to health centres continues to be central to the response. These services are lifelines to communities in voluntary isolation.

Throughout the response, the national governments, UNICEF and partners have undertaken vaccination campaigns for children and revitalized maternal, infant and child health services. UNICEF has helped to re-establish nutrition treatment services which will be continued, as well as the continuation of HIV/AIDS services.

Preparedness and prevention activities continue in countries across the region, with countries remaining vigilant in the event that Ebola cases emerge, notably in Guinea Bissau.

Whilst the immediate priority is to reach zero cases, the affected countries are already working on recovery. It is crucial that the gains made during the response are built upon. In addition to improving health services and access to safe water and sanitation, UNICEF will also support the recovery of other basic social services.

Results to date (September 2014 to June 2015)

Sixty-four CCCs were established in the three countries, predominantly in Sierra Leone. In Liberia, 16 Rapid Isolation and Treatment of Ebola (RITE) kits were prepositioned for urgent outbreak responses. RITE kits include tents, protective suits and pharmaceuticals, for deployment to hotspots.

Working closely with governments, UN agencies, community leaders, traditional healers and youth, UNICEF reached more than 2.9 million households with interpersonal communication and skills training on Ebola prevention across the three affected countries. Daily Ebola prevention and awareness messages have been broadcast in local languages across 142 radio stations.

Some 2.8 million households received WASH kits from UNICEF in Ebola-affected areas. Water and sanitation services, as well as waste management, were provided in 133 Ebola treatment centres and CCCs. Nearly 1,600 health centres were provided with handwashing stations and WASH support.

More than 7,000 Ebola patients received nutrition support. Over 1,600 infants (age 0 to 6 months), who could not be breastfed, received ready-to-use infant formula. UNICEF has trained more than 10,800 community health workers in Ebola prevention and case management and provided supplies, including protective equipment and chlorine, to 2,188 health centres.

Over 10,200 of the children who have lost one or both parents, or their primary caregiver, have been provided with a minimum package of support from UNICEF, which includes basic household and children’s materials, such as clothing, a mattress, learning materials and nutritional supplies. The vast majority of the orphans are now in the care of their community and/or members of their extended family. UNICEF has helped develop a network of survivors, and trained some of them to become foster care givers and nurses. Over 117,000 children have received psychosocial support.

Ebola has deprived 5 million children of months of schooling. During the last term, more than 3.3 million children were enrolled in over 15,000 schools. UNICEF has equipped the schools with a minimum hygiene package which includes infrared thermometers, soap and hand washing stations. Almost 31,000 teachers have been trained in Ebola prevention by UNICEF. More than 1.9 million children have benefitted from learning kits.

While the schools were closed, UNICEF supported distance learning programmes through community radio which reached an estimated 1 million children. Even with the reopening of schools, the distance learning programmes remain an important tool to help boost educational standards and reach out-of-school children.

More than 2.1 million children have been vaccinated against measles. Nearly 20,500 children, who were suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), were admitted for treatment. UNICEF worked to maintain HIV/AIDS services during the Ebola epidemic. A total of 1,734 exposed newborns were provided with antiretrovirals (ARV) for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and 5,485 HIV positive pregnant/breastfeeding women received antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the prevention of PMTCT.

More than 8,000 metric tons of supplies were delivered in, what is to date, the largest single supply operation in UNICEF’s history. UNICEF has supported Ebola preparedness and prevention activities in 18 countries in West and Central Africa including, Chad, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, Togo, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gambia, Central African Republic, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Ivory Coast.

In collaboration with national governments, UNICEF has supported the development of national Ebola prevention and preparedness plans in all countries.

UNICEF Country Offices scaled-up social mobilization activities working closely with traditional healers, religious leaders, teachers and health workers to raise awareness on Ebola. Public awareness campaigns took place in markets, border posts and bus terminals. Mass communication activities through radios and TV spots have been carried out and large numbers of communication materials (flyers and banners) were distributed. UNICEF was active in providing training to health workers and distributing protective equipment for health centres to improve infection prevention and control measures.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is appealing for over US$507 million to support the needs of women and children affected by the Ebola crisis in West Africa. As of June 2015, US$98.5 million is still required to meet urgent humanitarian needs. This appeal includes US$451 million for the response and early recovery activities in the three outbreak countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone); over US$34 million for critical prevention and preparedness efforts in at-risk countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo) and almost US$22 million for regional preparedness and RO/HQ support.

If the HAC funding gap is not met:

  • Community engagement platforms will be insufficiently supported and will therefore lack the capacity to address the remaining chains of transmission of EVD in the affected communities.
  • Effective deployment of rapid response and community surveillance systems will be jeopardized.
  • The Infection Control and Prevention supply for 450 health facilities in Guinea will be discontinued.
  • The provision of WASH services in Ebola treatment facilities and quarantined communities/households in Sierra Leone will cease.
  • Psychosocial support and social protection for more than 13,000 children, who have lost one or both parents/caregivers to Ebola, may also be significantly reduced.