Following the Social Good Summit, World Moms Blog was invited to a private event focused on the immediate humanitarian need to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus. It was eye opening, and we can’t wait to share what we learned and what actions everyday citizens can take…
“We have to get ahead of this crisis.” — Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, reported that her organization is working in all three countries with the most Ebola cases: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Ebola has a high fatality rate and isolation helps calm the virus down. Children are being orphaned at an increasing rate, and burial practices and safety are of importance, as the virus is still active after death. As the crisis increases, Miles says the goal is to also increase the amounts of Ebola Community Units (EBCs) that Save the Children has been setting up.
The introduction of an EBC gives aid workers the ability to work with people in the communities affected to increase trust in the treatment of the dangerous virus and helps get people out of their homes to decrease the chance of infecting family members. Miles also noted that the governments of the US and the UK are also running treatment centers in the countries affected.
Christopher Elias, President of Global Development at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, describes the space and scope of Ebola “unlike anything they have seen.”
This is the first outbreak in Western Africa and the 1st in urban areas. In fact, just two weeks ago, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ear tagged $50 million dollars to go toward eradicating Ebola. By the time they had made the announcement, they had already handed out the first $13 million, which indicates the urgency of the need, according to Elias. The $50 million commitment is the largest Gates has made to a humanitarian crisis. This is just the beginning, as $1 billion is needed to complete the mission, according to the ONE Campaign. Christopher Elias explains the 4 part strategy for the Ebola funding, as follows:
The 1st part of the strategic plan for where the Gates money will benefit is to partners such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and others. In fact, the first $1 million was allotted to UNICEF.
The second step is to fund research, as there is a need for both, a cure and a better test to diagnose Ebola.
Third, the strategy is focused at the country level.
Something very unique to controlling this outbreak is the use of health systems previously in place from the efforts to eradicate polio in Lagos, Nigeria.
The capital city had 19 cases, but health workers were able to control it quickly. Same was true for Senegal, where there was one case that was rapidly contained. Part three of the strategy will be how resources in countries affected can be complemented to help.
And the fourth part of the financing strategy for the Gates commitment is to join partnerships with the CDC and others to calculate which countries will be at risk for the spread of Ebola. Identifying and anticipating where Ebola could travel next, will help those countries prepare if the virus does indeed arrive. As already mentioned, the quicker the containment of the disease, the less likely it is to spread.
Carolyn Miles noted that where there are no health systems intact, in the more rural areas, there is the most risk of the virus spreading. In the more urban areas, as mentioned, the legacy of the polio eradication efforts are already in place to contain and treat Ebola.
We also heard from Jamie Drummond, co-founder of the ONE campaign, who pointed out that strengthening the economies in countries vulnerable to the disease is important. The world needs more sustainable systems, and, in fact, according to Drummond, it is estimated that $1 billion is needed for the Ebola crisis. He explained that the money could come from GAVI, but that would come at the expense of endangering the vaccination programs already planned to prevent other deadly diseases. Realistically, we need to deal with Ebola AND get GAVI the money it needs to carry on it’s already life-saving work.
The three countries currently affected by Ebola have significant natural resources. Had these natural resources been managed well in the past, the money to combat the virus would be here today. ONE insists that we need long-term investments in functioning economies.
On that note, we were told about the “Publish What You Pay” campaign to expose corruption and unveil money laundering schemes. In many countries throughout Africa there is no budget transparency, and citizens cannot see how the money is used. This campaign is working hard toward better functioning economies in Africa.
Towards the end of the conference, actor Idris Elba, famous for his role as Nelson Mandela, among others, arrived. Having roots in Sierra Leone and Ghana, he explained that he is dedicated to lend his celebrity to help the crisis in West Africa. He also noted that the Sierra Leone economy has been slashed by over 30% and that 75% of the Ebola victims are young women, who are more likely the caregivers for people suffering from the virus. In addition, he explained that in Sierra Leone there is a large group of thousands of young adults mobilized and going door to door to give out information about Ebola. But, this group is heavily fatigued. Elba is hoping to rally them forward.
World Moms, Elizabeth Atalay, Kyla P’an and myself, left the conversation briefed on just how large of a problem Ebola is and can be, and the importance of immediate action.
Three Steps YOU can take to help #ENDEBOLA right now!!!
1.) Sign this petition to tell world leaders to ACT on Ebola now!
2) Donate. Every little bit helps, to organizations on the ground, such as Save the Children.
3) Share. Download this image and share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.:
Together, we can take action to save lives!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, in New Jersey, USA.
Image credit to ONE.org.