THE international Caritas network is responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa by working with communities to reduce and prevent spread of the disease.
The Ebola outbreak began in Sierra Leone in May, 2014. Caused by the Ebola virus, the outbreak has already taken the lives of over 2,400 people. It is estimated that there are now over 4,500 people with the disease across West Africa.
Caritas Sierra Leone, supported by the international Caritas network, is working to reduce transmission of the disease through community-based activities. The activities include:
– Raising awareness of the transmission of the disease
– Training community advocates in prevention
– Distributing hygiene kits (including soap and chlorine) to households
The response aims to help over 16,000 people, and is especially looking to help children and youth most vulnerable to Ebola, as well as families who have been impacted by the virus though the loss of family members.
The Caritas and Catholic Church network is using the expertise gained through years of tackling HIV to combat Ebola as the deadly virus spreads in Africa. The diseases are different, but the way to spread information about them is the same. Communities trust the messenger because information is coming from already-existing networks that fight HIV.
“The Caritas network has mobilised to help our brothers and sisters in West Africa,” Monsignor Robert Vitillo from Caritas Internationalis. Msgr Vitillo is currently in Liberia to assist with the Ebola outbreak response, and has over 25 years of experience in working on the Church’s HIV and AIDS response, said.
“Any major health crisis puts a strain on already weak health care systems. We’ve seen that with HIV and AIDS over the years,” Msgr Vitillo says. “Caritas members on the ground are now educating people to prevent the spread of Ebola and providing other support, like food assistance and help for orphans, widows, as well as those who have recovered from the disease.”
Caritas Australia is supporting the Ebola outbreak response in Sierra Leone.
Source: Caritas Australia
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.