FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (March 2, 2015) — World Vision is urging global leaders attending the European Union High-Level Conference on Ebola in Brussels this week to offer increased support for children in affected West African countries. More than 8,000 children have been orphaned in Sierra Leone alone.
According to a recent report by the Sierra Leonean Government, over 16,500 children have been directly affected by the Ebola outbreak since late May when the virus was first detected in the country. Half of those children have lost one or both parents.
“Ebola has taken a huge toll on children’s survival and health in Sierra Leone,” says Leslie Scott, director of World Vision’s programs in Sierra Leone.
Before the outbreak, Sierra Leone already had one of the highest maternal mortality rates and the second highest child mortality rate in the world. The country’s fragile health care system has suffered acute shortages of qualified professionals, essential drugs and equipment.
“This situation has only worsened in the past year,” says Scott. “The Brussels conference is an opportunity for world leaders to commit further support to fighting Ebola now and during the coming recovery phase. We must ensure that our health care system, and all others sectors, including education, agriculture and livelihoods, are not just rebuilt following this crisis, but are transformed in order to prevent another unprecedented epidemic like this in the future.”
The latest statistics by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs/Partners show that more than 700 children contracted Ebola, with almost 450 succumbing to the virus in Sierra Leone.
Given the recent rise of new Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, World Vision remains vigilant, working in partnership with Government and other NGOs to reach zero new infections across the country.
World Vision is supporting temporary community care centers for orphaned children, who are being placed with extended families. The agency, which has conducted relief and development programs in Sierra Leone for almost 20 years, is working with Government ministries to train teachers in psycho-social skills in preparation for schools to re-open in late March after a six-month closure. World Vision burial teams have conducted more than 2,800 safe, dignified burials to help contain transmission of the Ebola virus.
World Vision calls on donors, the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners to continue the immediate response to contain Ebola until there are zero cases, while ensuring a smooth transition to a sufficiently funded, well-coordinated recovery phase that prioritizes children’s needs:
- Ensure a coordinated, fully resourced, sustainable recovery that develops vital social services and prioritizes children’s needs.
- Invest long-term in building a strong, resilient health system capable of providing quality essential care to mothers and children while handling future emergency outbreaks, such as Ebola.
- Increase efforts to address food insecurity and malnutrition, supporting livelihoods and prioritizing interventions to ensure pregnant women and children are well-nourished.
- Fast-track the safe re-opening of schools, taking action to ensure that all children can access quality education that also provides appropriate support and care.
- Rapidly expand support to vulnerable children, including orphans and those directly affected by Ebola, with alternative care, psychosocial support and assistance in meeting day-to-day needs, and promote their reintegration in communities.
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.