Ebola One Year on: Community partnerships draw West Africa closer to victory against deadly outbreak, says World Vision
One year since the worst Ebola outbreak was declared across West Africa, World Vision has hailed its collaborative work with Sierra Leone communities as being instrumental in averting the catastrophic spread of the virus.
According to World Vision, none of the 58,000 children and their families supported through the charity’s programs in Sierra Leone contracted the deadly virus owing to effective community engagement practices.
Leslie Scott, the World Vision Sierra Leone National Director, said: “We are extremely proud of our community partners in the districts we work in across Sierra Leone: the parents, teachers, paramount chiefs, faith leaders and government officials. Together, we have successfully helped to achieve and maintain zero new cases of Ebola for months now.
“We are winning the war on Ebola, but it’s not over yet. It only takes one case to reignite the outbreak, so there is no room for complacency. We need sustained international support not only to beat Ebola in Sierra Leone, but to transform national systems and structures across West Africa, so that we can avert future outbreaks,” he explained.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history produced some 27,600 infections in the three countries, of which 11,253 were fatal, according to official data. Although the epidemic has waned from its peak at the end of last year, when hundreds of new cases were diagnosed every week, it has so far proved impossible to eradicate completely. There were just 26 new cases of Ebola reported in West Africa last week, according to the World Health Organisation.
Reflecting on World Vision’s accomplishments Scott said early community engagement and effective communication of prevention messages was key to the charity’s successes in preventing the spread of Ebola.
“Having worked in Sierra Leone for over 20 years, World Vision mobilised its extensive networks early in the crisis. At first, rumors were rife and people didn’t know what or who to believe. Such misinformation and fear was deadly. I remember seeing corpses abandoned in the streets of Freetown. Even the global experts weren’t sure how to respond at first,” Scott recalled.
“However, people in communities where we work heeded to calls for vigilance, and worked together to stem the outbreak’s spread. Working in close collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone, World Vision has reached an estimated 1.56 million people through its Ebola Emergency Response,” he added.