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Caritas Internationalis is launching an emergency appeal in response to the Ebola outbreak in the West African country of Guinea.
Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever with no vaccine or cure. It’s one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind. Outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent.
Over 130 people have died so far since Ebola was detected for the first time in Guinea’s history in February in an isolated part of the country.
The virus kills quickly and incapacitates its victims, so Ebola rarely leaves remote forested areas. This outbreak has been different. It has spread to the capital Conakry and to neighbouring Liberia.
It has created panic across West African nations, whose weak healthcare systems are ill prepared for Ebola and where borders are porous.
Caritas Guinea (OCPH) has working with the government and the UN’s children agency, UNICEF, in the most affected areas.
Caritas has already supported 60 community leaders to provide public health messages and distribute chlorine and soap to around 100,000 people.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it would take two to four months to contain the Ebola outbreak, which is said had been one of the most challenging it had ever faced.
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Although the Ministry of Health says the number of deaths caused by Ebola has slowed dramatically and the outbreak is nearly under control, the government has asked Caritas to continue its work.
The emergency appeal for €137,088 ($189,661) is for prevention kits for 28,000 people, the establishment of an early warning system and further public health campaigns.
Caritas will work in Macenta, Kissidougou, Guéckédou, N’Zérékoré, and Faranah districts.
The prevention kits include soap and chlorine. The public health campaigns include radio broadcasts, public meetings and going house to house. The campaign is expected to reach 125,000 people.
Pope Francis said, “Let us pray also for the victims of the Ebola virus, which has spread in Guinea and in the bordering countries. May the Lord support the efforts combating the beginnings of this epidemic and ensuring care and assistance for all the needy.”