Although none of The Hunger Project’s Program Countries have been affected by Ebola – with the exception of Senegal that experienced one single case that was quickly treated – all Program Countries in West Africa, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Senegal, are taking action to raise awareness among staff and epicenter communities about Ebola.
Health animators at epicenters in these four countries have been trained by government health workers to educate epicenter communities about the history of the Ebola virus, its modes of transmission, and signs and symptoms to look for, and attitudes to adopt in order to avoid contracting the virus.
Regarding the virus’ transmission, epicenter populations are informed that primary contagions (animal to human) can be acquired through consuming bush meat, especially meat from bats, chimpanzees and rodents. Concerning secondary transmission (human to human), this pathogen can be transferred through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids (e.g. blood, sweat, feces, urine, sperm).
Other modes of transmission include touching or contact with the clothing of an infected person or corpse of a person who died of Ebola. Community members of the epicenters are also informed that a person who has been “cured” of Ebola still remains contagious (i.e. capable of transmitting the virus) for up to three weeks after having been treated (i.e. “cured”), thus people who are in close contact with such individuals should remain vigilant.
Efforts implemented in epicenters to control the spread of the Ebola virus include:
- Recommendation to frequently wash one’s hands
- Reduction or discontinuation of greetings that involve hand-to-hand contact
- Postings and images aimed at raising awareness about Ebola in the communities
- Surveillance of suspected cases
- Directing suspected cases to the health centers for further assessment and/or treatment
At a larger scale, governments of Benin, Burkina, Ghana and Senegal are taking additional measures including checkpoints at their borders to help stop people showing Ebola symptoms from entering their countries and health posts distributed throughout their territories to rapidly treat any declared case of Ebola.
Many of The Hunger Project’s partners at InterAction, who work directly in humanitarian relief and in the countries where the outbreak is currently, are responding directly to this crisis.