Ebola Preparedness Programme
The Start Network's regional Ebola Preparedness Programme helps governments and communities in Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal and the Ivory Coast prevent and prepare for possible outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases.
Since March 2014 countries in West Africa have experienced the largest Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in history, with multiple countries affected, resulting, to date (and according to the World Health Organisation December 2015 situation report) in over 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths worldwide.
Response work in the most affected countries has now seen human to human transmission in Liberia, while Guinea and Sierra Leone have been declared 'Ebola-free'. With international attention focussed on the most affected countries, preparedness work also took place in surrounding countries to limit the spread of the disease to only a handful of cases in Senegal and Mali in the region, but the need for continued vigilance is critical.
There have been many socio-economic, cultural and political impacts of the crisis at the local, national, regional and global levels. With a mortality rate of about 1 in 3, Ebola decimated communities, by orphaning children and tearing families apart. The outbreak caused significant loss to household incomes, caused food prices to rise significantly, led to unemployment and increased the vulnerability of already vulnerable populations. It destroyed lives and livelihoods and tested the national government and international community’s ability to respond to such a pandemic, to the limits.
The Start Network's response
The UK government decided early in 2015 to invest £7m through the Start Network to develop national infrastructure to help prepare the governments and communities of those countries surrounding the most affected countries, to prevent and prepare for future possible infectious disease outbreaks. The Start Network's collaborative response runs in Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, and is led by seven Start Network members and their partner organisations.
Through the unique consortium agreements already in place, the Start Network was able to disburse funds to partners quickly, and by working in collaboration among members a more comprehensive programme could be put together, based on the needs on the ground, as decided by those on the ground.
There are three key objectives of the programme. Firstly, it is designed to support communities in at risk countries to be better equipped to prevent the spread of Ebola. Secondly, to support health systems in at risk countries to prevent the spread of Ebola. Lastly, the programme is designed to contribute towards the prevention of other similarly communicable diseases.
The seven lead agencies are; Action Against Hunger, CAFOD, Christian Aid, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and World Vision.
These agencies are responsible for implementing projects that are aimed at supporting communities and authorities to be better prepared for future infectious disease outbreaks. This involves conducting activities such as providing new water points, hygiene kits, hygiene awareness training, rapid response team training, drills and simulations and mass social mobilisation and awareness raising through popular media such as television and radio.
Funding of £7 million is provided by by UK Aid.
To find out more about this programme contact E.Whitehead@savethechildren.org.uk