There is no known cure for the disease. So far there have been 95 deaths in Guinea and 10 deaths in Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. Together with Ministries of Health, the Red Cross, WHO and other partners, UNICEF is using text messaging through mobile phones, radio shows, TV programs and other means to disseminate life-saving information in the seven affected or vulnerable countries.
The strategies are designed to be culturally sensitive and to raise awareness at the grassroots level. Of particular concern is that people could contract the virus through routine encounters in mosques, churches, schools, health centers and markets.
"We are running against time," says Dr. Guido Borghese, UNICEF's principal advisor for child survival and development in West and Central Africa. "Ebola kills people; but more lives are put at risk because of lack of information or misinformation through rumors. Bringing patients with suspected symptoms to heath centers as soon as possible increases their chances of survival and prevents others from getting infected."
UNICEF and its partners are also facilitating door-to-door delivery of soap, gloves and chlorine (for disinfecting water) to families in affected areas, while stockpiling these supplies for use across the region as needed.
In the most affected areas of Guinea, including the capital Conakry, UNICEF has already distributed more than 77,000 bottles of liquid chlorine, 300,000 bars of soap and 150,000 pairs of gloves, 670 sprayers and more than 3,600 lbs. of Calcium Hypochlorite (HCH) to medical workers and communities.
UNICEF has issued an appeal to raise $1.2 million for Guinea and another $1.3 million for Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Mali. You can help.
Children listen as UNICEF visits the crowded Marché du Niger market in Conakry to explain to families how to they can protect themselves from Ebola. © UNICEF Guinea