Red Cross: Ebola first-responders necessary to community-based health systems
“Ebola-affected countries face many challenges in strengthening their healthcare systems,” Alasan Senghore, IFRC director, Africa region, said. “Trained Red Cross volunteers have transferrable skills which can be used in future disease outbreaks. We call on the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to integrate these workers into community health systems as they begin to recover.”
Sierra Leone's Red Cross has, to date, trained more than 2,000 volunteers to act as Ebola first-responders.
“Our volunteers are among the many heroes of this operation,” Senghore said. “They were accused of spreading the virus and causing deaths. Some were verbally and physically threatened. Many were banned from their own communities. Yet, they never wavered in their commitment to rid their countries of this hideous virus.”
Now, the IFRC is dedicated to ensuring volunteers that helped during the outbreak have the support they need as they return to their home communities.
“We have a duty to ensure that our frontline volunteers, who risked their lives to rid Sierra Leone of Ebola, do not suffer long term effects as a result of their heroic actions,” Senghore said. “Many responders continue to face stigmatization because of the invaluable role they played in ending the Ebola outbreak. We cannot abandon them now and call on our partners to help us, help them.”
The Red Cross has already facilitated the reintegration of 800 Red Cross Ebola workers in Sierra Leone.