Ebola: Red Cross Red Crescent warns complacency will lead to wider spread of the disease

Published: 28 November 2014

As the Ebola virus disease outbreak approaches the anniversary of the first case in Guinea, the Red Cross Red Crescent warns that efforts must be sustained in order to contain the epidemic.

For some weeks, messages of hope have finally been emerging from the three most affected countries in West Africa. While we are beginning to see the positive results of operations put in place to tackle the disease, the fight is not over. In fact, this may be just the beginning.

Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said efforts must continue at the scale and speed necessary to bring the ongoing outbreaks under control. “The operations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and partners are having a real impact on Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, but we must not be complacent,” he said. “The progress we are making against Ebola gives us encouragement that our collective approach is on the right path, and strengthens our resolve to continue until the outbreaks are contained.”

The unprecedented spread of Ebola virus disease in West Africa started with one case. One infected individual resulted in one of the most significant public health disasters in recent times. To defeat the disease, we must ensure that every last case is contained.

The situation, however, is not clear cut. In Gueckédou, Guinea, the initial epicentre of the outbreak, there has been a recent spike in new infections. This is also the case in Macenta, where the French Red Cross recently opened an isolation centre.

In Sierra Leone, while there are signs that measures taken in the most affected areas are effective, new cases are flaring up in previously unaffected regions, putting even more pressure on scarce resources. In the capital city, Freetown, the number of new cases is rising with a similar pattern that was seen recently in Monrovia, Liberia.

The confirmation of cases in Mali also reminds us that we cannot afford to let the momentum drop in terms of education, care and preparedness. “While keeping a focus remains on the three countries at the heart of this crisis, we are expanding our assistance to neighbouring countries to help them be prepared,” said Mr Sy. “I am often asked if there is still hope to contain these Ebola outbreaks, and I always answer yes, there is hope. But to turn our hope into reality, we need to keep up our efforts, put resources where they are needed and make sure we reach every last infected person.”

In support to Red Cross societies in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali, and in coordination with International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners, the on-going operation has mobilized more than 10,000 volunteers and 200 international delegates to scale up efforts in social mobilization, safe and dignified burials, contact tracing, psychosocial support, and clinical case management.

IFRC has revised three of its six emergency appeals, increasing the total amount of funding required to scale up its activities to more than 100 million Swiss francs.

For more information on Red Cross Red Crescent Ebola response activities, visit www.ifrc.org/ebola-crisis

For further information, please contact:

      In Dakar: 

  • Moustapha Diallo, senior regional communications officer, IFRC

      Mobile: +221 77 450 10 04, E-mail: moustapha.diallo@ifrc.org

In Addis Ababa/Nairobi:

  • Katherine Mueller, communications manager, IFRC Africa

Mobile: +251 930 03 3413/+254 731 688 613, E-mail: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org

In Geneva:

  • Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, Team leader, public communications, IFRC

            Mobile : +41 79 213 24 13 E-mail : benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org