Red Cross responds to Ebola outbreak in Guinea

تم النشر: 25 مارس 2014 12:56 CET

Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

Guinea, a west African country has been hit by an Ebola outbreak. According to the Ministry of Health, the first suspected cases were registered in early February. As of 25 March, the deadly haemorrhagic fever had claimed the lives of 60 people out of 86 cases reported across the country.

The most affected areas are Guékédou, Macenta, and Kissidougou districts, in southern Guinea.

“This is the first outbreak ever of Ebola in Guinea,” says Dr Facely Diawara, head of the health department at the Red Cross Society of Guinea.

In coordination with the Ministry of Health, Unicef, Médécins Sans Frontiéres and other partners, the Red Cross is stepping up sensitization on the ground. 

“As soon as the outbreak was announced, Red Cross volunteers were immediately deployed to the affected areas to inform people how to prevent or limit the spread of the disease,” explains Dr Diawara. “However, there is a need for more volunteers to be trained and mobilized, both in already affected areas as well as in other regions.”

Over the past few days, there has been a spike in reported cases. In Sierra Leone, a neighbouring country, three suspected cases are being investigated and there are fears that the disease will spread further due to the frequent travel of people in the region.

“If no urgent and sustainable measures are taken, this epidemic could affect many more people and could easily spread to other regions and neighbouring countries,” says Momodou Lamin Fye, regional representative for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in the Sahel region. “Trans-border surveillance is critical to contain the spread of this virus.”

Ebola is an infectious and contagious disease, spread through contact with an infected person’s or animal’s secretions, such as saliva or blood. There is no cure or vaccine.

IFRC has deployed a Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT) to Guinea, including an infectious disease specialist from the French Red Cross Society, as well as a psychosocial support delegate.

The Ebola outbreak comes at a time when the Red Cross Society of Guinea and other partners are already working with the government to address a cholera epidemic and an outbreak of measles. Symptoms of Ebola resemble those of cholera and measles, making it difficult to identify and confirm cases.