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In West Africa, countries at risk of Ebola remain on high alert: UNICEF

In West Africa, countries at risk of Ebola remain on high alert: UNICEF

DAKAR/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 21 November 2014 – With new Ebola cases in Mali and a continuing surge in Sierra Leone, UNICEF is stepping up efforts to help other West African countries at risk prepare for potential outbreaks.

“The new cases in Mali remind us that no country in the region is immune to Ebola,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We cannot wait for new cases in countries at risk before we take action. We must help communities today prepare for cases if they happen, when they happen, wherever they happen.”

In recent months, UNICEF has worked with all West and Central African countries to review their prevention and preparedness plans. In the 13 countries most at risk, focus has been on dispelling rumours, sharing life-saving information and providing supplies such as mattresses, soap, hydro-alcoholic gel, bleach, buckets, laser thermometers, gloves, diarrheal disease packages, syringes, tarpaulins and tents.

In Mali, an Ebola Treatment Centre in Bamako is already operational while other health facilities, especially in the border areas, have been equipped with additional water, sanitation and hygiene services. In the capital Bamako, 77 bus stations have been equipped with hand-washing materials.

In Côte d’Ivoire, which shares borders with Guinea, Liberia and Mali, mass public information campaigns are under way while community-based social workers go door-to-door to promote healthy behaviour. UNICEF is working with community and religious leaders and organizing information sessions on good hygiene practices in over 1,000 schools in the border regions.

In Guinea Bissau, an estimated 10,000 community health workers, teachers and opinion leaders will receive Ebola-related information and training.

In Benin, 50 local radio stations are airing Ebola education messages in all 8 main languages and a community engagement campaign is rolling out through a network of more than 2,000 health promoters.

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