EBOLA SEMINAR BY KIRKON ULKOMAANAPU

 

On the 4th of May 2015, I represented SLOF ry in a seminar organized by Kirkon ulkomaanapu.

The seminar comprised of various individuals from NGOs operating in third world countries. Also delegates from the Finnish Foreign Ministry were present, notably Mrs. Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen (Special Ebola Envoy).

The West African Ebola outbreak was first reported in March 2014 and has been the largest in history hitting especially fatal in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Official data up to 8th February 2015 showed that the current epidemic has claimed altogether 9,177 lives, of which 3,826 in Liberia. It has been claimed that the majority of victims have been women, with no reliable data to support this argument. According to WHO’s recent data, 49,5 % were women and 50,5 % were men.

According to the Ebola researcher from Turku University, Leena Kotilainen, these three countries worst hit have been in armed conflicts over the past decade and half. Due to these conflicts the health sector has been neglected and facilities left to decay. The lack of proper healthcare workers, caretakers of infected individuals and lack of knowhow created a problem to properly manage the EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) epidemic.

Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen from the Finnish Foreign Ministry mentioned the work so far undertaken by the Ministry to help these worst affected countries, especially Sierra Leone. She talked about the international commitment to eradicate this epidemic with support from the World Bank and other donor countries to do more. The question of trust and transparency of how World Bank money should be spent and accounted for properly was put across by the president of Kirkon ulkomaanapu Jouni Hemberg.

The seminar organizer Mr. Jussi Ojala lauded the great work SLOF ry has done in Finland for Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola epidemic. “SLOF ry has been a major force in partnering with major players in the fight against the Ebola pandemic”, Mr. Ojala said.

All and all the seminar was fruitful as participants were very eager to learn more, since Ebola is not only about the worst hit countries, but it concerns the world at large.

SLOF appreciates the efforts by Finnish NGOs and Foreign Ministry in assisting in eradicating Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone. We are looking forward to continuing co-operation with all NGOs who have been participating in helping Sierra Leone as well as those intending to do so. We also give a special thanks to the Finnish Foreign Ministry for assisting Finnish Red Cross and other Finnish NGOs who have been active in the country.  Moreover, we want to thank Kirkon ulkomaanapu and especially Mr. Jussi Ojala for organizing this seminar.

The Ebola outbreak which has claimed over 11,000 lives so far now seems to be at an end in Liberia and we are hoping the same will happen soon in Guinea and Sierra Leone. However, these countries will continue to need the support of donors and NGOs in building their healthcare infrastructure as was also discussed in the seminar organized by SLOF on April 27th.

 

Written by Franklyn Kamara

SLOF ry, Secretary General

9.5.2015

Mrs. Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen (left) in Sierra Leone in April. Source: CCYA / Taksvärkki.

WHO and World Food Programme join forces to reach zero Ebola cases

WHO and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are combining their forces in a new partnership in the Ebola-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The arrangement combines the logistics strength of WFP with WHO’s public health expertise to help get the current Ebola outbreak down to zero cases in West Africa. The platform also establishes an alert and response infrastructure for future crises.

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Source: WHO/D. Licona.

 

WHO and WFP combine their expertise in the 3 most Ebola-affected countries

“This partnership increases both agencies’ abilities to reach, monitor and respond to the needs of all people touched by Ebola,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “It helps us deploy and maintain technical teams with expertise in infection prevention and control, epidemiology, and contact tracing, enabling dedicated health workers in the deep field to do their best work. The partnership is also a learning opportunity for the future, informing our capacities to launch joint operations during large scale emergencies.”

“Over the past seven months, partnerships have been crucial in fighting this devastating outbreak. WFP has worked with our partners to respond to communities’ most basic needs — making sure food is reaching everywhere that the Ebola virus has hit.

Our logistical support to WHO and the wider humanitarian community has enabled affected people to receive the urgent care and support they need,” says WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “We are making progress, however we must remain vigilant. The Ebola crisis will not end until we identify, reach and successfully treat every last case. Recognizing this goal, the WHO-WFP partnership – a joint technical and operational force – will continue providing the support required to achieve zero cases.”

Using a joint operations approach, the two agencies agreed to combine their expertise in more than 60 priority districts and prefectures on the ground in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the three most Ebola-affected countries.

Today, more WHO employees are working at the community level on Ebola in West Africa than at any other point in the epidemic. Over 700 people are currently deployed in the Ebola affected countries. In districts with ongoing Ebola transmission, WFP is ensuring that WHO disease detectives have the resources they need — computer equipment, phones and stable internet connectivity — to share information critical to tracking and stopping the virus.

WFP is also managing the fleet of rugged vehicles carrying WHO social anthropologists and epidemiologists to isolated villages, where they will continue gaining the trust of communities to find and follow contacts of Ebola patients until all cases are resolved.

The joint partnership responds to the directive of WHO’s Executive Board Special Session on Ebola, to develop new ways to strengthen health emergency operations and provides a model for collaboration in future response to emergencies with health impact.

Source:

Joint WHO / WFP news release

11 March 2015, GENEVA

Additional support from Finland to combat Ebola in West Africa

Foreign Ministry of Finland has granted one million euros more in humanitarian aid to the International Red Cross for the work to combat Ebola in West Africa. This support for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is channelled through the Finnish Red Cross.

The support is targeted to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for its work to spread information, promote bringing to treatment and safe burial practices, and to provide psychosocial support and clinical care. The Finnish Red Cross will also participate in the running of the new treatment centre set up in Kono, Sierra Leone.

Ebola Center in Kono has been opened

 

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There are now eight volunteers in Sierra Leone sent by the Finnish Red Cross.

Picture: Jari Lindholm. Source: SPR

 

The new Ebola treatment center built by the International Red Cross has now been opened in Kono in Eastern Sierra Leone. The Finnish Red Cross has been strongly involved in the launching and running of the Ebola treatment centers in Kenema and Kono.

The Finnish Red Cross sends three volunteers to Kono this week in order to help in treating the patients. At the moment, there are eight volunteers working in Sierra Leone sent by the Finnish Red Cross – four in Kono, three in Kenema, and one in Port Loko.

Please read more (in Finnish):

https://www.punainenristi.fi/uutiset/20150112/uusin-ebolahoitokeskus-avattu-sierra-leonessa

Red Cross Builds a New Ebola Treatment Center in Kono

The Finnish Red Cross is actively involved in building a new Ebola Treatment Center in Kono, Sierra Leone. Finland has sent a logistics unit together with the Danish Red Cross, personnel and almost 50.000 kilos of clothes.

Please read more (in Finnish):

http://yle.fi/uutiset/ebolakeskusta_rakennetaan_sierra_leoneen__logistisesti_kriittinen_kohde/7717499

https://www.punainenristi.fi/uutiset/20141216/suomen-punainen-risti-lahettaa-logistiikkayksikon-sierra-leoneen

”Operation Hope” – Clothes and Hospital Equipment to Sierra Leone

SLOF organized a collection of used clothes and hospital equipment to Sierra Leone in October – November 2014 as part of its Ebola Campaign. The collection was named Operation Hope. Friends, neighbors, partners and colleagues were asked to participate in the campaign.

The money required to send the container to Sierra Leone was also collected as part of the project.

We gratefully thank all the donors of clothes, equipment and money!

 

 

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Empty container ready to be loaded with goods (November 5, 2014).

 

 

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Jukka Räsänen and Frank Kamara bring the first batch of clothes and other items.

 

 

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Lots more space still to fill in…

 

 

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Bags of clothes can even be carried two at the time.

 

 

 

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Sorted used clothes are waiting on the shelves of the warehouse.

 

 

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Trailer turns out to be very useful.

 

 

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Hospital equipment is documented carefully.

 

 

 

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Again the car and trailer are loaded with goods, next trip to the container can start.

 

 

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Donated hospital equipment was directed to Makeni hospital.

 

 

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Donated items include clothes to doctors, nurses and patients.

 

 

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Donated goods are brought in several batches and therefore help is needed in loading the container.

 

 

 

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All space is used as efficiently as possible.

 

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Looking good, notes John Bairoh.

 

 

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Bags filled with used clothes are ready to be picked up from a warehouse.

 

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More clothes to Ebola victims and their families can still fit in.

 

 

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John Bairoh (left) and Frank Kamara congratule each other of a successful project. In the middle Susanna Bairoh, the happy Ebola Campaign Manager.

 

 

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SLOF executives in front of the container from left: Foday Mansaray (Vice Chairman), Susanna Bairoh (Ebola Campaign Manager), John Bairoh (Chairman) and Franklyn Kamara (General Secretary).

 

 

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Is there still space, wonders Frank Kamara.

 

 

 

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Finally, it is full!

 

 

 

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Frank Kamara seals the container (November 18, 2014).

 

 

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Container is ready to be shipped, confirms John Bairoh (November 18, 2014).