The deadliest ever outbreak of Ebola has infected more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 4,000. Some estimates suggest that without rapid action in the next 90 days, 1.4 million people could be infected by Christmas.
CAFOD Director Chris Bain said: “The Ebola virus has reached a tipping-point, with a very narrow window of opportunity to reduce the number of infections.
“We have a long history of working in some of the worst hit countries in West Africa. It has been distressing to see the suffering and desperation caused by Ebola, but we cannot let these images paralyse us with fear. Instead we must reach out to the poorest and most vulnerable people in need of help. Robust action now means that we can save lives.”
Our partner Monsignor Robert Vitillio, a health expert for Caritas Internationalis, has recently returned from Liberia. He said:
“The healthcare infrastructure in Liberia has been weak for many years and the Ebola epidemic has brought it to its knees. Many hospitals and clinics are closed. Some people die in the streets looking for medical treatment.
“There is still much fear and denial, and public awareness raising is our first line of defence.”
The Church is on the front line of efforts to halt the spread of the virus. Our Church partners in the Caritas network are training priests, parish volunteers, imams, spiritualists and traditional healers to spread the word about hand-washing, good hygiene and safe burial practices, as well as distributing hygiene kits.
These volunteers are on the ground now, dedicated to reducing the number of new infections in their communities.
We have released £200,000 to our partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia, but we urgently need to raise more money to scale up supplies of hygiene materials and protective equipment, to support safe burial practice, and to boost mass public awareness programmes.
Find out more about Ebola and how CAFOD is responding at cafod.org.uk/ebola. Please continue to pray for those affected.