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Red Cross sends specialists to fight West Africa Ebola outbreak

31 July 2014

The British Red Cross is sending two more specialist delegates to West Africa as governments and aid agencies scale up efforts to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in the region.

A health worker and logistics expert are being sent to Sierra Leone and Liberia respectively, to support Red Cross staff and volunteers in raising awareness about Ebola prevention. 

The delegates will also work alongside other agencies and the Ministries of Health to reach out to more people in communities affected by the Ebola outbreak.  

According to the World Health Organisation, Ebola has killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in March. 

Hygiene promotion and education

British Red Cross spokesperson Mandeep Mudhar said: “The Red Cross has already deployed several teams and delegates to the affected countries since the beginning of the outbreak. 

“We know from experience that our health and hygiene promotion work makes a real difference to communities and has helped curb the spread of Ebola.

“Red Cross teams are taking to the streets and villages daily, educating the public through songs and theatre performances, on how to respond to the outbreak in their communities.” 

Highly contagious, Ebola’s symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding. There is currently no cure or vaccine for the Ebola virus, although its spread can be prevented.

Funding boost

The British Red Cross is supporting Ebola prevention work across the affected countries. Activities include collecting and disposing of corpses, tracing people who may have come into contact with the disease and raising awareness about hygiene practices. 

Red Cross operations on the ground received a boost this week as the UK government announced the release of £2 million to the charity and other agencies in West Africa.

The funding, from the Department for International Development, will contribute to activities focussed on improving public understanding of the disease through increased media messaging and direct engagement with communities. 

The money will also be used to expand the investigation, tracing and treatment of new cases.

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