Direct Relief had this so share about the Ebola situation in Africa and what they are doing to fight it.
By Direct Relief
The substantial decrease in new Ebola cases in West Africa over the past 8-10 weeks (to almost none in Liberia; reduced numbers in Sierra Leone) has been welcome news and has caused Direct Relief to pivot back to helping the countries and partners deal with both the severe health challenges that pre-dated and were made worse by the Ebola outbreak, as well as the still serious threats that Ebola (and lingering fear of Ebola) present.
As the Ebola crisis unfolded over the summer and fall of 2014, Direct Relief’s response was very similar to our typical two-track approach in such emergencies. The first (and priority) is an immediate boosting of whatever is needed to address the specific circumstances and requirements of the situation, with the second being the backfill of local resources, since invariably they are the first resource tapped to put against a crisis and, if not replenished, amplify the ripple effects of the crisis.
In September, when Direct Relief chartered the 747 to bolster the effort to combat Ebola, it was because we were fortunate to have significant quantities of the type of protective gear (surgical gloves and gowns), basic therapy (oral rehydration and IV fluids), and supplies (blood collection vials) that were needed specifically to deal with the Ebola situation. The supplies had been urgently requested, and no alternative transportation existed at the time because commercial carriers had curtailed or suspended traffic.
Those “track 1” Ebola materials were put to immediate use by the in-country partners with whom we had already been working and had thrown themselves at the Ebola threat – without much other international assistance at the time. We have been advised by the governments and our partners that Direct Relief’s substantial assistance at that time and since has been critical to their response, and deeply appreciated. But, we also included “track 2” materials, including more midwife kits and basic meds and general supplies that were not being replenished given that the focus was on Ebola.
Pivoting back from Ebola: In the intervening four months, Direct Relief has been pivoting back to the type of second-track support that we anticipated being needed to shore up the general health resources that had been largely drained to put against Ebola and are needed to restore services and confidence. One of the requests – developed by our partner groups (Last Mile Health in Liberia and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone, both of whom joined with Partners in Health and Direct Relief in a little consortium, as well as Medical Research Centre in Sierra Leone) – was to have a general health facility supply module to improve the type of basic protective gear and supplies needed by all health facilities, in large part to re-instill confidence among clinicians and patients who have been reluctant to return to health facilities. Such a basic “kit” did not exist, so both the concept and the specifics were developed by their teams and reviewed extensively with in-country health leaders and us before we committed to fulfilling the request, which required us purchasing the materials and assembling them.
Last week, we completed the assembly of these modules – sufficient to equip 100 health facilities for the next several months – and we have been able to arrange a charter flight this week to deliver them to Sierra Leone and Liberia, along
with a substantial resupply of basic medications for the national stores that have been drained.
Flight details: The flight will depart LAX Wednesday morning at 2 a.m. The contents – 70 tons (140,000 lbs.) of basic supplies and essential medications – have a financial value of $8 million.
Because of our cramped space, we had to secure temporary warehousing to assemble the modules. I have attached a few pictures from this weekend in the 15,000 sf space to give you a sense of how much material is included in this shipment (the photos are from opposite sides of the long space and are just of the health facility supply modules – not the additional 25% more material of wrapped medications which must be retained in our licensed space.)
The flight represents a substantial boost from Direct Relief to partners and countries who still have a long way to go in recovering from the worst outbreak of Ebola the world has ever experienced. Helping to reopen facilities and strengthen the healthcare infrastructure must remain a priority for Direct Relief and others in order to effectively provide support to the people living and working in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
You can work with Direct Relief and their fight against Ebola Here