Ebola - Strengthening the frontline response
Between March and September 2014, Ebola had claimed more than
lives in West Africa. Médecins Sans Frontières is the standard-setting expert on how to respond to this virulent disease.
In early September 2014 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a medical humanitarian organisation, declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa had taken more than 5,900 lives since the previous March.
This severe, often fatal illness first appeared in 1976 and in the early years was found to infect people in remote villages near rainforests in Central Africa. However, the more recent outbreaks in West Africa have occurred in both urban
and rural areas. According to the World Health Organization, the virus spreads through human-to-human transmission, with fatality rates at about 50 per cent.
MSF has already worked in treating Ebola over the decades, making it the standard- setting expert on how to respond to this virulent disease. Its response to the March 2014 outbreak began well before the rest of the international community realised the urgency of the situation. MSF is now active in all four affected countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali – working on both treatment and prevention.
Given the scale of the crisis, MSF has set up an international emergency fund for the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which will allow the organisation to respond quickly and flexibly to priority needs. The response to Ebola is particularly expensive, as the medical equipment has to be incinerated after contact with each patient, and medical staff must be rotated out frequently. Concerned by the gravity of the situation, Oak Foundation’s Trustees were pleased to make a grant of USD 2.5 million to help fund MSF’s Ebola response in West Africa.
In northern Liberia, an MSF health promoter supports a young mother whose son has Ebola.
© Martin Zinggl/MSF
Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report
Year of publication: 2014