Sweden is one of the countries contributing most to the fight against Ebola epidemic in West Africa. As of 3 November 2014, the Swedish support reaches 549 million Swedish kronor, targeting the most urgent needs in crisis hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In total the Swedish support through Sida and the Swedish government, to the fight against Ebola in West Africa reaches 549 million Swedish kronor. Sweden is the fifth largest contributor to the UN appeal to address the most urgent needs: stop the outbreak, treat the infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability, and prevent outbreaks in countries currently unaffected.
As of 10 November 2014, 13,268 cases and 4,960 deaths have been reported. In an effort to “ramp up” the response against Ebola crisis, the UN has set up its first ever emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), working closely with governments and national structures in the affected countries, regional and international actors, UN member states, the private sector and civil society.
The current outbreak in West Africa is unprecedented and has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by World Health organisation (WHO). It currently affects both rural and urban areas, including large cities, in West African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In Liberia and Sierra Leone alone, all districts are now affected by the virus.
These countries face enormous challenges to offer clinical care of infected people and stop the virus from spreading. Low capacity in the national health systems, poor equipment and lack of medically educated personnel limit the efforts by the regimes in these countries to handle the outbreak.
A large part of Sida’s support to the international response against Ebola targets Liberia – the country worst affected by the crisis and where the virus has been spreading the most. Liberia is also the country with weakest socioeconomic pre-conditions after having just recovered from a long civil war.
Since April 2014, Sida contributes with aid to the Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone via UN-bodies such as Unicef, UNFPA, WFP, WHO and through support to international organisations like Swedish Red Cross, Save the Children and Plan Sweden. The support goes to:
- Supporting local personnel through education, equipment and salaries.
- Contributing to strengthening the response by sending international health care workers to the affected countries, both to rural areas and cities.
- Preventing further spreading of the virus by regional support to preparedness in neighbouring countries.
The distribution of safety equipment, health packages, vaccines and other equipment goes through support to relevant government agencies as well as civil society organisations.
Sida’s support also goes to treatment of ill people and informing the populations about Ebola and how the virus is transmitted. The majority of the Ebola patients get infected in connection to funerals and contact with dead bodies of relatives. Health care workers, women as care givers, and children are other high risk groups.
The Ebola outbreak is far from being under control and continued efforts are needed to fight the epidemic. One of the biggest challenges is to reach out with information and ramp up medical care in rural areas where poor infrastructure and sometimes impassable roads hinder delivery. Therefore a part of the support through Sida also goes to coordinating travels to these places and to vehicles and fuel.