Continuing the fight against Ebola

28.01.2015 - Food, medicine and education – GIZ support for West Africa continues.

The fight against Ebola is beginning to make headway, but West Africa has still not rid itself of this epidemic. Under a commission from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is providing various kinds of support on site. For example, in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, it joined forces with Cap Anamur to set up an isolation ward in a children’s hospital. ‘A facility like this is vitally important if we are to avoid any new infections,’ says Marina Mdaihli, GIZ Country Director for Sierra Leone and Liberia. With a capacity for 20 beds, the ward provides extensive medical care for children during their three-week quarantine period. Furthermore, GIZ equips the hospital with protective gear and clothing.

‘Even though we have Ebola to contend with, we must not neglect the other illnesses that require medical attention,’ says Marina Mdaihli. Freetown’s children’s hospital treats 1,300 inpatients and 2,000 outpatients with a range of medical conditions from malaria to pneumonia. GIZ supplies the hospital with medicine and an ambulance and handles payrolling to make sure staff get paid regularly.

‘Hospitals aren’t the only place we can fight Ebola. The majority of work has to take place in the villages,’ says Marina Mdailhi. GIZ is therefore helping to get food supplies to people in Sierra Leone and Liberia who are unable to leave their homes due to quarantine regulations. ‘Only if these people are well provided for will they stay in quarantine. If they don't, they can pass the disease on to others.’ Education is also urgently required to prevent new cases of infection. GIZ is therefore assisting several non-governmental organisations in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea that are educating villagers about the risks of infection and explaining how they can safeguard themselves. In Liberia, GIZ is involved in education work targeting particularly vulnerable population groups, such as taxi drivers.

GIZ is also active in bordering states to those particularly affected by Ebola, like Mali, for example. Here the German Federal Foreign Office has commissioned GIZ to set up a mobile laboratory to test for Ebola and has also mandated it to organise training for laboratory personnel.