Category Archives: Ebola

Upcoming Events Discuss Ebola in Liberia, Raise Money for Children in Crisis

This week we will collaborate with Save the Children and Children Inspire Design on two important awareness raising and fundraising events.

#EndEbola Twitter Chat

ebola400Join us this Wednesday when we join Save the Children and their Liberia Country Director, Greg Duly. We will discuss the state of the Ebola crisis in Liberia and how it is steadily becoming under control. We will also discuss how Ebola has affected women, children, and entire families.

When: WEDNESDAY, April 1, 2015
What: Twitter chat with Save the Children (@SavetheChildren) and its Liberia Country Director Greg Duly (@greg_duly)
Hashtag: #EndEbola
Why: We will discuss the current state of the Ebola caseload in Liberia as well as Ebola’s effects on women, children, and families.

Want to spread the word? Share this tweet.

Continue reading Upcoming Events Discuss Ebola in Liberia, Raise Money for Children in Crisis

In Photos: Safe and Dignified Burials in Sierra Leone

In September 2014 the Centers for Disease Control along with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health studied traditional burials in order to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for safe and dignified burials for those who die from Ebola. As of October 2014, a SOP for safe, dignified medical burials was approved and released by the Sierra Leone National Emergency Operations Center. This is a far cry from the insistence upon cremation by the Liberian government in the summer of last year.

As of January 2015, 2500 people have died from Ebola in Sierra Leone. Today when someone dies from Ebola, families have a greater chance of their loved one being buried with dignity without having to touch the deceased who are highly infectious.

Below are photos of an IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross) team removing a body of a young man on December 24, 2014 who was suspected of having Ebola.  His family held a small ceremony in the young man’s memory. The body was then driven to the cemetery where it was buried based on the standard operating procedure created in October 2014.

As part of the Western Aera Surge Operation in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society is undertaking safe and dignified burials ensuring that those who have died from the disease are treated with respect, while also ensuring the safety of communities. This is critical work, often performed by volunteers, and undertaken at the most dangerous time. Volunteers must wear full personal protective equipment and work in teams of seven.

Safe and Dignified Burials in Sierra Leone

Continue reading In Photos: Safe and Dignified Burials in Sierra Leone

5 Global Health Stories We’re Following This Year

2015 will be an interesting year in global health primarily because this is the year when the Millennium Development Goals should ideally be reached. Global health experts admit that many of the goals, for example MDG5, will not be reached globally even though some of them have already been reached on a country level.

Ethiopia effectively reached MDG4 along with Bangladesh, Liberia, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania according to a 2013 report in the Guardian and UN data. Globally, the proportion of people having access to safe drinking water was reached in 2012. That is cause for celebration.

The overarching theme this year will be how the global health community will save more lives in low and middle-income countries in the best ways possible. This does not necessarily mean substantive goals, target dates, and data measurements will be scaled back. Rather, improved approaches to global health will be devised to streamline processes and programs.

While there are many global health stories that deserve following in great detail here are our top five picks for 2015.

1. The Effect of Ebola on Maternal Health: While Ebola is being fought in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia there must also be an enhanced emphasis on women who are pregnant and need to deliver their babies in a hospital setting. As it is, with low resources and crippled health systems in these three countries, women still need to be afforded quality care during pregnancy and delivery while health workers also care for those stricken with Ebola.

As the year goes on it is probable that key data will emerge from lessons learned during the Ebola response. According to Scientific American, the WHO, UNICEF, and Save the Children have already devised best practices and protocols for safe delivery.

2. Global Immunizations: This year we will watch the increase in rotavirus vaccine roll-outs across poor countries. Why? Diarrhea is one of the top three leading causes of deaths for children under five, and yet the rotavirus vaccine isn’t accessible in the volume of some the other vaccines. That said, rotavirus roll-outs have increased substantially since 2011. There is more good news. With increased GAVI funding, the rotavirus vaccine will be introduced in 30 countries this year.

rotavirus

We will also look at the progress of the Ebola vaccine. GAVI has announced that it is ready to purchase a million doses of the vaccine as soon as the World Health Organization approves its use. Today, Johnson & Johnson announced that they have already begun clinical Ebola vaccine trials with volunteers in Africa.

3. Country Commitments to the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP): Last year saw the official adoption of the plan during last year’s World Health Assembly and the launch of the Every Newborn Action Plan in Johannesburg during the Partners Forum. Upon its launch there were already 40 commitments (PDF) to save more newborns globally. That said, this year we will also look for increased commitments, particularly country commitments, to the ENAP especially since 2.9 million newborns die every year due to largely preventable causes.

4. Scaling Up of Frontline Health Workers: Did you know there is a global shortage of 7.2 million frontline health workers? That key data has been widely shown by the lack of health workers in  Ebola stricken countries. It’s the lack of health workers that has made fighting Ebola harder than it should be and why many health workers outside of Africa have had to pick up the slack.

Scaling up health workers is a large expense, but it bears repeating that in order for countries to provide quality health care to their citizens there must first be enough health workers. Ethiopia is touted time and again as an excellent example of a poor country that effectively scaled health worker coverage across the country through a government-led effort. Other countries’ health ministers have traveled to Ethiopia to see best practices for scaling up their own frontline health force. The second step after key learnings, however, is making sure actions are taken besides pure lip service. In 2015 we will look at evidence from other low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, that will introduce better national health worker programs.

5. Food Security in Conflict Areas: At the end of 2014, the World Food Programme said that it had suspended food aid to 1.7 million refugees in Syria due to a lack of donor funding. And previous to that, the WFP split vouchers in half to stretch funds according to the New York Times. Even though the World Food Programme received an emergency influx of funds after their voucher suspension announcement last month, it is never a good sign to see that there are not enough donor dollars to feed the world especially those who are living in conflict areas. Food security in not only conflict zones, but also in West Africa will be on our must-follow list this year.

Which global health stories are you following this year?

 UN Photo/Martine Perret

Our 7 Favorite #NGO Vine Videos of the Year

There were really powerful and poignant Vine videos that were published by NGOs, foundations, and nonprofits this year. Even though adding Vine into their social media repertoire hasn’t hit a tipping point within the nonprofit community yet, we still believe Vine is an effective medium to convey short, but impactful messages.

Here are our seven favorite Vine videos of the year — in no particular order.

Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation always works hard to push forth messaging about the lack of access to sanitation around the world. This Vine video was yet another way to tell people about the global toilet problem on a medium where there was a 639% increase in teen users last year.

UNICEF South Sudan

Seeing children in South Sudan enjoying their life in a safe space is enough to make anyone’s day especially now that the United Nations announced that they are reducing its peacekeeping force amid increased violence.

92nd Street Y

To point a spotlight on the global water problem and the amount of time women spend collecting and carrying water every day, Hallie Tamez, the Associate Director of Major Gifts at WaterAid America carried a 40 pound jerrycan full of water throughout the streets of Manhattan in their #Steps4All campaign.

UNICEF

UNICEF does a great job of using Vine! During the height of the #bringbackourgirls campaign, UNICEF created this video to show how important it is to keep this movement alive.

UNICEF

We all know that vaccines work, but UNICEF showed us how they work in this quick stop motion Vine video. Diseases stay at bay when children are given vaccines, one of the most effective interventions against children under five deaths.

DFID

It’s no wonder Ebola health workers were afforded Time magazine’s Person of the Year accolades. They put their lives at risk every day to save people who are infected with the highly infectious disease. In this campaign DFID showed the medics behind the masks who are working in Sierra Leone.

Save the Children

Allowing people to tell their own stories is ideal when we think about voices from the field. Save the Children gave a platform for these Syrian teenagers to tell their stories from the Zaatari refuge camp in Jordan.

What were your favorite Vine videos of the year? 

Why Global Handwashing Day Matters

One of the top three killers of children under the age of five globally is diarrhea. Human feces carries diarrhea pathogens and  “a single gram of human feces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria“. An easy way to curb deaths of children under five is to simply wash one’s hands. This goes for pneumonia as well, another global killer of children in low- and middle-income countries.

Handwashing is an intervention that works, but one that proves hard to catch on in some parts of the world due to a lack of knowledge, behavioral norms, and a lack of soap! Studies show most homes worldwide have soap, but it is typically used to wash clothes and not hands. If one simply washes their hands it breaks the cycle of a disease. That is how powerful, effective, and inexpensive handwashing is, but unfortunately isn’t used nearly enough to curb some of the most deadly infectious diseases that take the lives of millions of children every year.

October 15 is the annual Global Handwashing Day where over 200 million people celebrate handwashing around the world to reinforce the importance of washing hands to stay healthy and ultimately save lives.  Simply washing one’s hands with soap significantly reduces the spread of disease. And yet, given that, data shows that health workers only wash their hands 40% of the time when they are in a health care setting. That is certainly unacceptable and one of the primary reasons Global Handwashing Day exists. Studies also show that children who live in homes where handwashing is a part of the regular routine are more healthy than those who do not.

Continue reading Why Global Handwashing Day Matters