ACT Alliance Rapid Response Fund Payment for Ebola response in Liberia and Sierra Leone

by Elisabeth Gouel | | ACT Alliance - Switzerland
Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:17 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Rapid Response Fund Payment Request No. 07/2014

Funds Sent To:
Lutheran Development Service, Liberia: US$ 22,250
Council of Churches Sierra Leone:         US$ 35,614

Amount Sent: US$ 57,864    

Date: 13 May 2014    

Details of Response

Emergency: Ebola response in Liberia and Sierra Leone    

Date of Emergency: April-May 2014

ACT Requesting Members: ACT Forum Liberia and ACT Forum Sierra Leone



The deadly Ebola virus was confirmed in the Guinean capital after a series of tests were conducted on suspected cases, by Government medical authorities in January, 2014. This has since spread into neighbouring Liberia and suspected cases being reported in Sierra Leone. Ebola virus disease (EVD) is considered one of the most aggressive viruses known to date in part because of its rapidity to kill, which can be within one week from exposure or three to four days from the first symptoms become apparent. This leaves very little time for any treatment to act and save a sick individual.

In an Ebola status update posted on its website, the World Health Organization (WHO) said as of May 12, the Guinean Ministry of Health has reported a total of 233 clinical cases of the Ebola virus disease, including 157 deaths.

In Sierra Leone, 14 suspected cases were reported form the Northern region along the border between Sierra Leone and Liberia. However these were later found not to be positive after the health authorities with the support of WHO conducted tested on the suspected cases.

In Liberia, the Ebola virus has now claimed 11 lives in the country. Upon review and consolidation of data, the cumulative number of cases is 12 (6 confirmed, 2 probable and 4 suspected). The present total number of suspected and confirmed EVD cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone recorded has risen to 245. However, most of the new suspected cases came from Guinea and Liberia.


In Liberia, some of the measures taken by the Government’s Health authorities and development partners include the establishment of a laboratory at the Liberia Institute of Biomedical Research (LIBR) in Margibi County to test for Ebola and Lassa fever. Additionally, the ministry has set up case management treatment Centres in Foyah, Lofa County where the disease was first reported from Guinea and the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. Various stakeholders, including the Lutheran Church of Liberia (LCL) and the Lutheran Development Service (LDS) are working with various Technical Committees of the National Task Force on Health Emergency in strengthening surveillance, contact tracing, psychosocial support, case management, community mobilization and sensitization on preventing and containing the spread of the Ebola virus. "Other partners, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Plan-Liberia, have printed fliers and posters, including Ebola school-friendly materials for distribution to Lofa, Bong, Nimba, Margibi, and Montserrado Counties," the ministry said.

In Sierra Leone, the Government and Health authorities have outlined plans for management of Haemorrhagic fever by hospital and medical facilities across the country. The government has put in place active surveillance measures and further set up a referral centre for Ebola at the Kenema Lassa Fever Centre.  Furthermore, all hospitals, including the facilities managed by the Council of Churches Sierra Leone (CCSL), Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL), etc., are mandated to accept Ebola patients to avoid further exposure of infected patients.

Another measure announced is for citizens of Sierra Leone "not to bring any corpse from Guinea and Liberia into Sierra Leone for burial and also comply with active surveillance protocols instituted at border crossing points for travellers to and from Guinea and Liberia", especially, Gbalamuya in the Kambia district north of Sierra Leone.

In Sierra Leone, a rapid needs assessment conducted by the CCSL and ACT members in country, have revealed that despite the Government’s efforts to prevent Ebola infections across the country, there was still a shortage of basic protection gear for health personnel working in the medial facilities. Another important issue is the inadequacy of the methods presently being used for dissemination of awareness raining messages on the Ebola virus. Reports form the ACT members and their partners working in the remote and difficult to reach areas have indicated that most of the messages are yet to reach these vulnerable segments of the population in Sierra Leone. Most of the message dissemination is centred in Freetown and the district capitals which are within coverage areas of the National radio and television stations. The district and community radio stations (independent) also have limited coverage and thus not able to reach the majority of the remote rural populations.

There is therefore an urgent need for a concerted effort by the ACT forum in Sierra Leone to work towards complementing the efforts of the Health authorities by extending the key messages into these remote areas within the shortest possible period, to prevent spread of the Ebola virus and also save lives, as this deadly virus has no known cure or treatment.

For this action it will be necessary for the ACT members to work across the districts which share boundaries with Guinea and Liberia, and target the populations living in remote communities within these districts, through the use of innovative and effective strategies. This will include formation and capacity strengthening of Ebola sensitization task force teams in each peripheral health units (PHU), to work across designated catchment areas demarcated by the district Ministry of health (MOH) offices. In addition a minimum supply of basic protective gears for health personnel working in the few PHUs would be procured for distribution. Logistics to facilitate the movement and spread of messages in local dialects will be provided to member of the task force.

Parity between males and females will be encouraged within all activities (including participation to trainings, for instance).


Prevention of infection and spread of the Ebola Virus among the population in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

To raise awareness of rural populations living in remote communities in Chiefdoms within 4 districts in Sierra Leone (by the Council of Churches Sierra Leone) & 2 Counties in Liberia (by the Lutheran Development Service, Liberia), on the Ebola Virus symptoms and prevention measures by June 2014:

1.    Identify, review and adapt key messaging on Ebola for dissemination in 6 local languages (Creole, Mende, Vai , Timni, Limba and  Liberian pidgin english)
2.    Set up Ebola Task force teams in PHUs Catchment areas, trained  and equip them to disseminate key messages
3.    Strengthen co-ordination and collaboration between the MOH, PHUs and ETFs to manage and prevent spread of Ebola


1.    Key messaging on Ebola identified, reviewed and adapted for dissemination in 6 local languages (Creole, Mende, Vai , Timni, Limba and  Liberian pidgin english)
a.    Meetings with MOH/stakeholders (district & community level)/community radio stations
b.    Translation  and recording of messages
c.    Printing of posters / leaflets
d.    Dissemination of the messages to Ebola Task Forces (ETF), community radios, schools, etc.
The implementation of the project is expected to last two months. The major concerns were directed towards the genuine achievements in the projects objectives.  In this direction, the need to create awareness is principally set as an action to keep the alert minds of the target population within the specific border towns and villages of Guinea and Liberia. Through this, information given to different people could be through downcast broadcasting, evening burn fire discussions, and through radio and television discussions. This will take the form of involving community people in the various languages, so that the inhabitants of the most remote village could be reached in a well understanding manner.

The distribution of Information Communication and Technology materials could take different forms. This could be attained through writing messages in the different languages which could be easily read and understood. Furthermore, the drawing of live pictures with self-explanatory actions is another venture in this direction. Pasting of pictures, giving handbills to travellers and erecting bill boards at strategic positions are all feasible undertakings that could help in the achievements of desired results.

2.    Ebola Task force teams set up in PHUs Catchment areas, trained  and equipped to disseminate key messages
a.    Meetings with MOH (district)
b.    Selection and formation of the volunteers  ETFs in all targeted districts
c.    Conduct of Ebola Management and Prevention Training for PHU staff & ETF groups and planning strategy for community level sensitization. Dissemination of key message through radio, mosques, churches, village/town criers/Ward meetings/schools/ market places/ passenger vehicles/boats, etc.
d.    Workshops for the sensitization and awareness raising

Training is another result oriented step in the achievement of proper success on the project. Training is a direct way of bringing the trainees closer to the information so that they can become more enlightened to pass information and train other people to continue carrying the Ebola prevention into wider communities. Training is a vital undertaking that could produce far greater results because education and correct knowledge is power to action.

Furthermore, community groups will be set, which could best relate with the community people at the end of the project. This is a deliberate action set as a pre-plan objective and activity as a sustainability and project exit strategy. In this regard, different people within the communities could be attained through including different community persons from religious heads, women in different trades, and youths with a surmountable representation of women and girls and boys.

3.    Strengthened co-ordination and collaboration between the MOH, PHUs and ETFs to manage and prevent spread of Ebola
a.    Co-ordination meetings(district/County & PHU level)
b.    Joint monitoring visits/reporting

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