IFRC President urges Ebola-affected governments to recognize role of Red Cross volunteers in strengthening community resilience to future emergencies

Publié: 9 février 2016

Geneva, 9 February 2016 – The President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mr Tadateru Konoé, today ended his first visit to Guinea and Sierra Leone, with a call to the governments of both countries to recognize the role Red Cross volunteers can play in building community resilience to future shocks.

“More than 5,000 Red Cross volunteers in Guinea and Sierra Leone were trained during the Ebola response, many of them in infection, prevention and control,” said President Konoé. “They gained valuable experience and skills which can be used in not only responding to various disease outbreaks, but in also acting as early warning systems. I strongly believe that these volunteers can, and should, play a key role in the rebuilding of community-based health systems.”

While in Guinea, the IFRC President met with Head of State, His Excellency, President Alpha Condé, and Minister of Health, Mr Abdouraman Diallo, both of whom committed to engaging trained Red Cross volunteers to help fill gaps in community health care systems. In Sierra Leone, President Konoé discussed similar opportunities with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, His Excellency, Dr Samura M.W. Kamara.

“Ebola taught us the importance of investing in community-based surveillance, and early warning and response mechanisms so diseases are identified before they become full blown epidemics,” added Konoé. “But we need to go further. When public health emergencies threaten and do cross international borders, such as Ebola, and now the Zika virus in the Americas, it is vital that we share these experiences and knowledge to ensure more effective and efficient responses.”

As part of their recovery operations, the Red Cross Society of Guinea and the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, with the support of the IFRC, are working with trained volunteers to teach additional community members how to conduct surveillance and identify symptoms of disease when they first surface. By alerting authorities and allowing the implementation of rapid response systems, an outbreak can potentially be stopped before it starts.

“I cannot emphasize enough the key role of Red Cross volunteers in the fight against Ebola, particularly in the provision of safe and dignified burials,” said President Konoé. “The outbreak would not over in Guinea, and down to minimal cases in Sierra Leone, if not for their heroic actions. Engaging these trained volunteers in strengthening community resilience is a logical next step as these countries begin to recover from this deadly outbreak.”

For more information, please contact:

In Guinea:

  • Mirabelle Enaka Kima, Communications delegate, IFRC

Mobile: +224 624 196 530, E-mail: mirabelle.enaka@ifrc.org

In Dakar:

  • Moustapha Diallo, Communications officer, IFRC Africa

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

In 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 Carpentier, Team leader, public communications

Mobile: +41 792 132 413, Email: benoit.carpentier@ifrc.org