First batch of household protection kits arrives in Liberia
First batch of 50,000 household protection kits arrives in Liberia
Kits containing protective gear will equip a network of community-based Ebola care centres nationwide
With Ebola cases in Liberia spiralling upwards – now over 3,500 cases – UNICEF’s first shipment of new household protection kits landed in the Liberian capital on Wednesday.
The shipment of 9,000 kits marks the first in a series of airlifts that will see a planned total of 50,000 kits for distribution. Funding for the kits has been provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US-based Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
Each kit contains protective gowns, gloves and masks, as well as soap, chlorine and a sprayer, along with instructions on the use and safe disposal of materials. UNICEF’s partners, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and USAID, will distribute the initial 9,000 kits to the five counties with the highest rates of Ebola in the coming weeks.
The kits will be given to families through Ebola care centres due to be established to allow family caregivers to look after Ebola sufferers as safely as possible away from their homes. They fill a critical gap left by the limited capacity of the country’s dedicated Ebola treatment units, which currently have only a fraction of the beds required.
"As we work to urgently get those who are infected into safe places for treatment, this airlift of protection kits will help ensure that Ebola Care Centres and communities have the information and tools they need to safely care for those who fall ill," said Tim Callaghan, USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team Leader. "We will continue to work alongside our international partners and the governments of the affected countries to coordinate a creative and global effort to stem this historic epidemic."
The proposed Ebola care centres, each with a limited number of beds, will be located primarily near designated healthcare facilities across Liberia. The centres will offer family caregivers basic training in “no-touch” care, using the protective gear and sanitation materials supplied through the kits, as well as safe disposal of waste items. Kits may also be given to families to disinfect homes after a sick family member has been isolated.
“This epidemic is unprecedented and combatting it requires an extraordinary response,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s Representative in Liberia. “The first priority is for more dedicated Ebola treatment facilities and trained staff, but until these are in place, we need to support community efforts to safely care for those who may be infected and cut the transmission cycle of this deadly disease.”
Along with USAID, funding for the kits is being provided by US-based Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which has committed a US$3.6 million matching contribution to UNICEF to support the airlift.
“Ebola is not just an issue affecting Africa, it is a global crisis that requires support and resources from all of us,” said Jody Allen, co-founder of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and CEO of Vulcan Inc. “By providing solutions that can be applied today, we can turn the tide on the spread of the disease.”
Under the leadership of the Government of Liberia, UNICEF is supporting a mass social mobilization effort, including deploying teams of traditional communicators to spread prevention messaging, and producing print communications and radio programming to raise public awareness of the outbreak in communities across Liberia. Another major pillar of UNICEF’s Ebola response is providing psycho-social support and care to children affected by the disease, as well as water and sanitation, chlorine, sprayers and other hygiene items to support infection control. UNICEF has also distributed 300 metric tonnes of health supplies and protective gear for health workers.