The Sierra Leone Red Cross Society seeks to provide short and long-term assistance to those affected by Ebola through community engagement, safe and dignified burials, health and care, disaster risk reduction, food security and livelihood assistance, monitoring and contact tracing, case management, and strengthening the capacity of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society’s to respond to the needs of the affected. 2014’s Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest to date, and the first outbreak ever in West Africa. The epidemic in the region began in Guinea and then spread to the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. There were also outbreaks in Senegal, Nigeria, and Mali. As of 7 November 2015, Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free, but only after the virus claimed nearly 4,000 lives. This project takes place throughout the country, since everyone is potentially at risk for contracting Ebola. However, focus is give to areas where active transmission occurs and areas with highly vulnerable populations.
Creating awareness among communities is critical to helping contain and prevent future cases of the virus. Community-based activities include hygiene promotion, safe and dignified burials that allow relatives and others to mourn the deceased safely to prevent the spread of the virus, psychosocial support, and information-sharing with communities. Other work in communities includes ensuring safe water, increased sanitation, and food security and livelihood support to counter the negative economic effects the virus has on population movements. Another critical component is contact tracing towards effective mapping of the disease, which strengthens resilience in communities.
This project targets high-risk groups and opinion leaders, such as: women’s groups and associations, bike riders and drivers, schools, religious and traditional healer leaders, health workers, and Ebola patients. Special attention is given to women, since they are particularly vulnerable.