Oxfam International Blogs - Ebola http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/ebola en How to Build Community Trust to Fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/19-05-02-how-build-community-trust-fight-ebola-democratic-republic-congo <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>The world’s second-biggest Ebola outbreak is still raging in DRC, with more than 1,200 cases and 800 deaths. Research has shown that distrust is one of the biggest obstacles in this Ebola fight. Oxfam's Andrea Vera outlines three ways to work with local communities to build their trust and increase the success of an Ebola response in a conflict context.</strong></em></p><p>On April 19, 2019, an epidemiologist deployed by the World Health Organization in the Ebola outbreak response was <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/04/23/716121928/the-doctor-killed-in-fridays-ebola-attack-was-dedicated-but-also-afraid?t=1556284340775" rel="nofollow">killed in an armed attack</a> and his colleagues injured. Just a few days earlier, other attacks had taken place in Beni territory on an <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/drc-ebola-treatment-centre-attacked-killed-190309135835087.html" rel="nofollow">Ebola treatment center in Butembo</a> where armed men were engaged in a gunfight with security forces for about half an hour before the situation was contained.</p><p>Terrified patients fled the hospital, despite suffering the painful symptoms of Ebola. It took weeks for response teams to find them. The message of those who fled was clear: their fear of dying from an attack was greater than their hope of being cured in the Ebola treatment center.</p><p>In a country where communities build their own health clinics, it is a rare thing to see these precious resources destroyed. However, this is now happening all too often in Butembo city; leaving people afraid to go to Ebola treatment centers and their local health clinics.</p><p><strong>The consequences are severe</strong></p><p>Most patients now only arrive at treatment centers once they are already very weak and showing several symptoms of Ebola. At this phase of the disease, treatment is far less effective, and chances of survival are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/04/worlds-second-biggest-ebola-outbreak-still-raging-heres-why-hot-zone/" rel="nofollow">drastically reduced</a>.</p><p>Some doctors and nurses have now closed their private clinics because the work has become too dangerous. They do not want to run the risk of being associated with Ebola teams because it could damage their reputation, as many people think the response is a money-making business and <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/congo-s-ebola-response-threatened-conspiracy-theories-rumors-n994156" rel="nofollow">do not trust</a> that those who work with the response really want to help.</p><p>Likewise, people are increasingly reluctant to get vaccinated or receive other help to protect them from Ebola, such as decontaminating houses, safe burials and <a href="http://news.trust.org/item/20190424203556-g95c7" rel="nofollow">food distribution</a>.</p><p><img alt="Bora, who works as a public heath promotor assistant for Oxfam, installs a chlorinated hand washing point outside a church in Mangina, DRC. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam" title="Bora, who works as a public heath promotor assistant for Oxfam, installs a chlorinated hand washing point outside a church in Mangina, DRC. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/113738lpr-oxfam-washstand-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Bora, who works as a public heath promotor assistant for Oxfam, installs a chlorinated hand washing point outside a church in Mangina, DRC. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam</em></p><p><strong>Oxfam’s work on Ebola in DRC</strong></p><p>Oxfam has worked on this latest Ebola epidemic, the tenth in DRC, since August 2018. We have focused on public health promotion and supporting communities to design and carry-out their own action plans to break the chain of transmission.</p><p>We are also providing safe, clean water in affected communities, constructing latrines and waste disposal incinerators at health centers. In addition, Oxfam is leading on advocacy and communication efforts to make the response more inclusive and community-focused.</p><p>From our DRC experience, and from working in Ebola outbreaks in West Africa, we have learned some valuable lessons on how to fight the disease more effectively:</p><p><strong>1. Draw on local health capacity</strong></p><p>“In Butembo we have doctors… we want them to be the ones who treat us.”</p><p>Since the beginning of the outbreak, people have constantly asked health and aid workers to respect their culture and tradition, provide consistent information, deliver services on time, follow and respect vaccination lists, and to be treated by their own local doctors.</p><p>But, these requests have been often ignored, which has broken essential trust. Rather than support local health clinics and work with local health workers in a response, agencies have often created a parallel system to treat Ebola. This has only further frustrated people, and increased their reluctance to accept services that could treat many patients in their own communities.</p><p><strong>2. The response must be adapted to the local context</strong></p><p>The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is different, because it is happening in a conflict zone with a long history of violence where state security forces do not have full control. Many people in Beni, Mangina and Butembo blame the state for the lack of security.</p><p>This context of conflict has not been effectively included in designing the response, and feedback from the community has been ignored. The result has been to repeat previous mistakes.</p><p>Recently the Ministry of Health and international organizations, like Oxfam, have set up a response-wide mechanism to track and deal with people’s concerns. If the system is fully implemented it has the potential to correct the ways of working according to people’s recommendations.</p><p><strong>3. Ownership by the community is essential</strong></p><p><em>“Why are you talking about community engagement, and bringing people from other countries who do not speak our language?” </em></p><p>The vaccination and decontamination teams that go out into villages cannot effectively engage with the local communities because they often do not speak the local language. They don’t have the same capacities as local people to explain the risks of not getting vaccinated or not decontaminating their homes, or the need to get treatment early.</p><p>Community engagement means treating communities as equal partners, and recognising their capacity and experience to stop Ebola. It means respecting and involving local leaders and training local people to decontaminate, carry out safe burials and manage effective community-based surveillance to isolate cases, and refer people to clinics as early as possible.</p><p><img alt="A medical practitioner administers the Ebola vaccine to an Oxfam worker in Mangina, DRC. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam" title="A medical practitioner administers the Ebola vaccine to an Oxfam worker in Mangina, DRC. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/113723lpr-oxfam-staff-vaccination-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>A medical practitioner administers the Ebola vaccine to an Oxfam worker in Mangina, DRC. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam</em></p><p><strong>Moving forward</strong></p><p>In recent weeks, we have observed positive movements with decontamination activities organized in collaboration with community groups, an initiative that we find very encouraging. Involving communities in developing action plans to solve challenges is as critical as medical expertise when it comes to effective prevention of Ebola.</p><p>Oxfam is working side-by-side with highly qualified health workers and technical experts from different organizations and the Ministry of Health who are working in harsh conditions and unsafe environments. Their daily efforts and invaluable support needs to be complemented with more community owned actions to end the current outbreak.</p><p><em>This entry posted on 2 May 2019, by Andrea Vera Nava, Oxfam Humanitarian Campaigns and Advocacy Manager. Andrea has worked in several countries in Latin America, Middle East and Africa. She has been working on the Ebola crisis in North Kivu and Ituri since October 2018, moving between the main epidemic hotspots.</em></p><p><em>Top photo: Medical workers administer the Ebola vaccine in Mangina, DRC. Oxfam was one of the first organizations to respond to the Ebola outbreak in North-Kivu and Ituri provinces. Photo: John Wessels/Oxfam</em></p><p><strong>Read more:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/18-06-11-oxfam-10-lessons-working-communities-fight-ebola"><strong>Oxfam's 10 lessons for working with communities to fight Ebola</strong></a></li><li><strong>Download <a href="https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/620139/gd-community-engagement-wash-031116-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">Oxfam’s Guide to Community Engagement in WASH, based on lessons from Ebola</a></strong></li></ul><p></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>How to Build Community Trust to Fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo</h2></div> Thu, 02 May 2019 14:23:33 +0000 Guest Blogger 81952 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/19-05-02-how-build-community-trust-fight-ebola-democratic-republic-congo#comments Oxfam's 10 lessons for working with communities to fight Ebola http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-06-11-oxfam-10-lessons-working-communities-fight-ebola <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Following the news of an Ebola outbreak in the DRC, here’s a summary of lessons learned from Oxfam’s community engagement during the 2014–15 Ebola response in Sierra Leone and Liberia.</strong></p><p>The Ebola response in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea demonstrated that community engagement is critical in responding to epidemics. This was not always a guiding principle in an outbreak, which initially prioritized biomedical and militarized responses.</p><p>After the 2014-15 epidemic Oxfam organized an inter-agency workshop to share experiences and learning. The following guidelines for public health practitioners and program teams were informed by this workshop, with input from various agencies involved in the Ebola response, as well as a literature review. For more information download the full <a href="https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/oxfam/bitstream/10546/620139/1/gd-community-engagement-wash-031116-en.pdf" rel="nofollow">Guide to Community Engagement in WASH</a>.</p><h3>1.&nbsp; Understand diversity and varied vulnerabilities within communities</h3><p>Resources must be devoted to understanding community perspectives and advocating for community-focused interventions. Specialists, such as anthropologists and epidemiologists, may be required for information to be collected, documented and used effectively.</p><h3>2. Avoid one-size-fits-all models of community engagement</h3><p>It is better to recognize the potential capabilities of communities in each situation and provide context-specific support. This allows communities to take action to protect themselves using a ‘menu’ of different strategies, developed using a community-led approach. To do this effectively, key groups (e.g. male and female leaders, traditional healers, religious leaders, older people, youth and children) need to be identified.</p><p><img alt="Oxfam&#039;s hand-washing training in Clara Town, Sierra Leone. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014" title="Oxfam&#039;s hand-washing training in Clara Town, Sierra Leone. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014" height="1298" width="2048" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/89435lpr-handwashing-claratown-sierra-leone-pablo-tosco-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Oxfam's hand-washing training in Clara Town, Sierra Leone. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014</em></p><h3>3. Ensure advocacy is inclusive and represents communities</h3><p>Advocacy efforts should be directed at promoting inclusive and representative ideas, including the concerns, questions and solutions of communities, and ensuring that only useful and practical information is given to communities by humanitarian actors.</p><h3>4. Prioritize providing information about protective action and monitor uptake</h3><p>The information given to communities must be prioritized to ensure that the crisis affected population understands and uses the most effective protective actions (e.g., in the case of Ebola, early isolation and referral, and not touching the dead). The uptake and use of these specific actions must be monitored, and rumours about diseases and treatment processes should be documented in order to track progress.</p><h3>5. Ensure medical and burial processes are transparent and understood by communities</h3><p>It is important to work with others (from all sectors) to increase the transparency of medical and burial processes, especially where there is a lack of understanding and/or trust in the healthcare system. This can include step-by-step guides for referral or burial management, and showing videos to illustrate what to expect.</p><p><img alt="Reednel Kun, Oxfam Community Health Volunteer, talking with Alma Tomás, who received an Oxfam kit distribution in New Kru Town, Liberia. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014" title="Reednel Kun, Oxfam Community Health Volunteer, talking with Alma Tomás, who received an Oxfam kit distribution in New Kru Town, Liberia. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/89587lpr-community-health-volunteer-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Reednel Kun, Oxfam Community Health Volunteer, talking with Alma Tomás, who received an Oxfam kit distribution in New Kru Town, Liberia. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014</em></p><h3>6. Support staff to deliver community-centered approach</h3><p>Support, training and supervision for newly recruited staff are vital to ensure responses are community-centered, effective and accountable.</p><h3>7. Co-ordinate with other actors to put community engagement first</h3><p>Community engagement supports every other aspect of a response (e.g. testing and treatment, safe burials, etc). Therefore, active coordination and planning with other sectors is crucial at the local and district levels, as well as with national collaborators.</p><h3>8. Organize inter-agency daily debriefs</h3><p>Program managers should actively support and foster regular information exchanges between program teams within and between organizations (e.g. daily debriefs).</p><h3>9. Encourage self-help, not fear</h3><p>Using fear to encourage changes in behaviour can be counterproductive. It is better to promote self-reliance and self-help among affected populations.</p><h3>10. Apply these lessons to all water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs</h3><p>Many of the lessons from the Ebola response can be applied to Oxfam’s WASH programs, especially cholera responses. Equally, Oxfam’s experience with public health promotion (PHP) and WASH interventions means that we are well placed to support and develop capacity in community engagement and social mobilization.</p><p><img alt="Therese*, Public Health Promoter talking to a child in Kalunga IDP camp, Kalemie, Tanganyika, DRC. Credit: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam, September 2017" title="Therese*, Public Health Promoter talking to a child in Kalunga IDP camp, Kalemie, Tanganyika, DRC. Credit: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam, September 2017" height="680" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/111046lpr-oxfam-heath-worker-1240.jpg" /></p><p><em>Therese*, Public Health Promoter talking to a child in Kalunga IDP camp, Kalemie, Tanganyika, DRC. Credit: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi/Oxfam, September 2017</em></p><p><a href="https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/oxfam/bitstream/10546/620139/1/gd-community-engagement-wash-031116-en.pdf" rel="nofollow"><strong>Download Oxfam’s Guide to Community Engagement in WASH, based on lessons from Ebola<br></strong></a></p><h3>Oxfam’s response to Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)</h3><p>Oxfam has launched a public awareness drive to help keep the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2018-05-28/oxfam-launches-public-awareness-drive-keep-ebola-under-control" rel="nofollow">Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka, DRC</a>, under control. Oxfam is providing door-to-door information to the most vulnerable people, working with communities and carrying out mass awareness activities including film screenings and working with local community radio stations. It also plans to work with religious and traditional leaders.</p><p>Oxfam is installing chlorinated water points in hospitals, health centres, schools and ports, and helping to disinfect houses in which Ebola cases have been detected. It also provides disinfection kits and hygiene kits to communities.</p><p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-democratic-republic-congo" rel="nofollow"><strong>Read more about Oxfam's Ebola response in the DRC</strong></a></p><p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-democratic-republic-congo" rel="nofollow"><strong></strong></a><em>This entry posted 11 June 2018, by these three authors:</em></p><ul><li><em>Marion O'Reilly - public health promotion team leader for Oxfam's global humanitarian team. She has worked for Oxfam since 1995, first in Angola and then in Oxford. She focuses on community mobilisation and health and hygiene promotion in humanitarian crises.</em></li><li><em>Eva Niederberger - public health promotion adviser at Oxfam working on humanitarian response, and co-author of Oxfam's Guide to Community Engagement in WASH.</em></li><li><em>Suzanne Ferron - public health program consultant and co-author of Oxfam's Guide to Community Engagement in WASH</em></li></ul><p><em>Top photo: Community Health Volunteers receiving training in Clara Town, Liberia, November 2014. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam<br>*Name changed.<br></em></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Oxfam&#039;s 10 lessons for working with communities to fight Ebola</h2></div> Mon, 11 Jun 2018 09:58:01 +0000 Guest Blogger 81603 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-06-11-oxfam-10-lessons-working-communities-fight-ebola#comments Diary of an Oxfam aid worker http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-09-diary-oxfam-aid-worker <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Originally from the Philippines, Duoi Ampilan has helped people facing disaster all over the world. Here, he tells us why his job is now more important than ever.</strong></em><br><br><strong>Dear Diary,</strong><br><br>So much has been said and written about our sector's issues and shameful experiences but not much on how we move heaven and earth; on how we face our fears every day; and how we sacrifice ourselves to be able to faithfully render our vowed responsibilities. It is not all about the work but the heart we put into our work and what we are willing to endure in the name of service.<br><br>Let me tell you, my Dear Diary, some of my experiences with Oxfam when I was deployed to some of the most difficult contexts on Earth. Among the closest to my heart is my 12 months of work in <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">South Sudan</a></strong> before and after its independence. That is where I developed further the love for this work. I broke my heart many times because of the suffering of the people.<br><br>You can imagine a situation where people wait for two days to get a drinking water. Women and children in many villages walked hours in search for water. In the village of Amethaker in Gogrial East, children only wash every 3 weeks because the place was too dry during the six-month drought.<br><br>I am glad that we drilled some boreholes to some of these thirsty communities. It was so nice to hear people praising us because we quenched their thirst. But you know Dear Diary, much of the credit should be given to our supporters, who have been very generous in extending their love and generosity.<br><br>At this portion of my writing Dear Diary, I shed tears. I never cried when I was stung by scorpions twice in South Sudan, when I got malaria and typhoid fever. I cried as I asked myself what will happen if people will no longer support us for their regular donations because of the work of a few men? Because there are more people in many countries needing our support and services.<br><br><img alt="Doui leading the volunteers for the rehearsal on Hand-Washing dance, part of Oxfam&#039;s hygiene promotion program after Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, November 2013." title="Doui leading the volunteers for the rehearsal on Hand-Washing dance, part of Oxfam&#039;s hygiene promotion program after Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, November 2013." height="284" width="660" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/i-am-leading-the-volunteer-for-the-rehearsal-on-hand-washing-dance-typhoon-haiyan-in-philippines-680.jpg" /></p><p><em>Doui leading the volunteers for the rehearsal on Hand-Washing dance, part of Oxfam's hygiene promotion program after Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, November 2013.&nbsp;Photo: Oxfam</em></p><p>Do you remember the <strong>Ebola outbreaks in West Africa</strong>? Among other humanitarian aid workers, I was called to respond but I refused. I was fearing for my life. But when I realized that I am living not only for myself but for others, then I had to conquer my fears and the uncertainties. I worked in Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015. I had to embrace the social stigma too. Nobody wanted to touch me or even sit beside me months after I served in West Africa.<br><br>I also worked in<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow"><strong> Yemen</strong></a> in 2016 and 2017 even though my family and friends were persuading me to change career when they learned that I was heading to support the people pushed by the civil war into the desert and into the sea. It was not easy living under the falling bombs and also hearing the melancholy of the people day in and day out. I was trapped in Aden, my Dear Diary, when I needed to go home because my father passed away. Every day was very long and tormenting emotionally. I wanted to support my grieving family but I could not go home.</p><p>Dear Diary, if others are not true to their vowed promise to help people in need in times of calamity while working with any organization, please do not forget that there are those who are moving mountains to ensure that every cent that people give is reaching people who urgently need help.</p><p>Please do not forget too that many of us have lost their lives while we are delivering humanitarian services in many of the world's biggest crises.</p><p>I put my heart into my work because I know that not everyone has this honor and privilege to be of service to mankind this way.</p><p><em>Note from Oxfam:</em><br><em>If you'd like to send Duoi a message, please email <strong><a href="mailto:feedback@oxfam.org.uk" rel="nofollow">feedback@oxfam.org.uk</a></strong> and we will pass your message on.</em></p><p><em>Photo at top: Duoi checking hygiene kits in Yemen, where Oxfam, working with local partners, has reached more than 1.5 million people with humanitarian aid since July 2015. Credit: Oxfam</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Diary of an Oxfam aid worker</h2></div> Fri, 09 Mar 2018 12:53:01 +0000 Duoi Ampilan 81435 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-03-09-diary-oxfam-aid-worker#comments What can the Ebola crisis teach us about responding to Zika? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-02-23-what-can-ebola-crisis-teach-us-about-responding-zika <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Reliable information can serve as a form of immunization when people are able to act on it. This is one lesson from the Ebola crisis that is worth remembering as the world responds to the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus.</p> <p>Unlike Ebola, Zika is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes. It is also a much less violent disease causing mild symptoms in most patients. But its suspected link to increasing numbers of babies being born with abnormally small heads, and to neurological disorders, is far more concerning.</p> <p>Controlling both diseases is likely to depend on local people's participation in planning and implementing changes in their communities. In West Africa, Oxfam workers supported communities to change centuries-old burial practices. Natural actions like shaking hands and comforting the bereaved carried risks, while the <strong>washing of hands took on life-changing significance</strong>.</p> <p>Working with communities requires building trust – especially where there is mistrust of government advice. In one extreme case in southern Guinea, villagers attacked and killed a group of health workers. Helping a community to prevent or overcome an outbreak must involve working with locally-trusted people such as religious leaders, traditional healers or other local organizations.</p> <p>With so little information about the possible paths of Zika transmission – especially from human to human – the atmosphere is ripe for rumors. In some areas, communities are suspicious about the chemicals being sprayed to help control mosquitoes.</p> <p>Local modes of mass communication like radio stations or mobile phone technology can be very effective ways to dispel rumours and provide reliable answers. They can also be vehicles for spreading rumours, so trust in the advice and effective communication are paramount.<strong> In responding to the Zika virus, it is vital that governments and donors recognise the importance of community engagement from an early stage.</strong></p> <p>But it is equally important that the advice to counteract such rumours is practical. It is not realistic to advise women against getting pregnant without making contraceptives and family planning services widely available. Zika-carrying mosquitoes can breed in standing water yet covered water containers may be beyond the means of poorer families. Community-wide measures are needed so that rain water puddles are filled in and household waste water is carefully disposed of.</p> <p>Data on the geographical spread of the Zika virus is still patchy, but some<strong> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/07/brazil-rich-zika-virus-poor" rel="nofollow">experts are already predicting</a></strong> it will follow the pattern of dengue and Chikungunya. These viruses, which are carried by the same type of mosquitoes, are not confined to poorer areas but do tend to cluster here. Poorer people are less likely to have access to running water, effective drainage, good healthcare or mosquito control measures. If there is a causal link with microcephaly, the condition affecting newborns, this will place an enormous burden on the poorer women who must care for them – sometimes for life.</p> <p>The Ebola crisis highlighted the critical importance of resilient health systems, including surveillance. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been <strong><a href="http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/1st-emergency-committee-zika/en/" rel="nofollow">swift to declare</a> </strong>a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’, it is vital that governments cooperate to share information and scale up investment in research for vaccines and medicines.</p> <p>The Ebola crisis highlighted the failure of the current research &amp; development system to diagnose, prevent and treat emerging diseases. The Zika virus is yet another reminder that we need a system for medical research that puts patients before profit.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Nigel Timmins, Humanitarian Director, Oxfam, on 23 February 2016.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <ul><li><strong>Donate: to <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/donate#emergency" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's emergency fund</a>, so we can be there fast every time disaster hits</strong></li> <li><strong>Read: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/Oxfam-Canada/zika-virus-women_b_9190570.html" rel="nofollow">The Zika virus is hitting poor women hardest</a></strong></li> <li><strong>Download: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/ebola-still-here" rel="nofollow">Voices from Liberia and Sierra Leone on Ebola response and recovery</a></strong></li> </ul><p><em>Header image: Naomi Kollie, an Oxfam Community Health Volunteer, demonstrates hand-washing to a community in Clara Town, north of Monrovia, Liberia, as part of Oxfam's Ebola response. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam, November 2014.</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>What can the Ebola crisis teach us about responding to Zika?</h2></div> Tue, 23 Feb 2016 17:49:31 +0000 Nigel Timmins 39076 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-02-23-what-can-ebola-crisis-teach-us-about-responding-zika#comments Oxfam’s humanitarian year 2015 http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-01-01-oxfams-humanitarian-year-2015 <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>As we move into 2016 Tim Bierley, Oxfam Humanitarian Administrator, looks back at the highs and lows of Oxfam's work responding to emergencies around the world over the last year.</em></p> <p>2015 saw vast new challenges arise and old ones persist. War and conflict continued to hit <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/yemen" rel="nofollow">Yemen</a></strong>, <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>Syria</strong> </a>and <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">South Sudan</a></strong> hard, and we saw further refugee crises in the wake of violence in <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/burundi/nduta-refugee-camp-reopens-welcome-thousands-burundian-refugees" rel="nofollow">Burundi</a></strong>. Meanwhile, the effects of a particularly strong <strong><a href="http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/our-work/climate-change-drr/el-nino" rel="nofollow">El Niño</a></strong> took hold, bringing severe drought to parts of Africa, Latin America and the Pacific. A devastating earthquake hit <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/nepal-earthquake" rel="nofollow">Nepal</a></strong>, while floods caused destruction in Myanmar, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. This is how Oxfam responded:</p> <h3>January 2015</h3> <p>The year begins with snowstorms hitting parts of Lebanon and Jordan exacerbating the existing hardships bourn by Syrian refugees. Oxfam reinforces and waterproofs shelters, and provides water supplies to replace those that freeze over.</p> <p>Challenging water supply engineering work in Melut, South Sudan, is completed, and later singled out for praise by the UN. Teams in Southern Africa begin supporting 32,000 people in Malawi after severe flooding. Oxfam GB's <strong>CEO <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mark-goldring/three-realities-of-ebola_b_6605998.html" rel="nofollow">Mark Goldring visits Liberia and Sierra Leone</a></strong> to highlight the need for massive recovery efforts as the Ebola crisis begins to wane.</p> <h3>February</h3> <p>Plans are underway to expand Oxfam's work in Syria beyond the water infrastructure support that has already helped millions, including 3 million people in Aleppo - to direct health promotion work in communities.  </p> <p>In Jordan, ground-breaking designs are finalised for a <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-syria/syria-crisis-providing-water-every-household-zaatari-camp" rel="nofollow">camp-wide water network</a></strong> to link every household in Za'atari camp to its own water supply, replacing expensive water trucking.</p> <p>New violence in <strong>Democratic Republic of Congo</strong> leads Oxfam to begin supporting 50,000 newly displaced people. And <strong>peace negotiations in Yemen</strong> fall into disarray, leading to serious concerns for the country, Oxfam's program and staff.</p> <h3>March</h3> <p>The UN asks Oxfam to design and build the water network for a new camp in Ethiopia which will house South Sudanese refugees. Meanwhile, the Oxfam report <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/ebola-still-here" rel="nofollow"><strong>Ebola is Still Here</strong></a> vividly communicates the opinions of women and men affected by Ebola to politicians and the international aid world. In the Pacific, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/vanuatu/cyclone-pam-three-months" rel="nofollow"><strong>Cyclone Pam devastates Vanuatu</strong></a> and Oxfam responds immediately.</p> <p>Oxfam's engineers launch a <a href="https://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWENews/news.aspx?id=3050" rel="nofollow"><strong>collaboration with the University of the West of England</strong></a> to trial 'urinetricity,' a process of using urine to create electricity which will provide low-cost lighting. This could make a particularly big difference in temporary camps, where lighting keeps people safe.</p> <p><img alt="Oxfam supplied and installed a water tank in the Huth camp for internally displaced people. Photo: Hind Aleryani/Oxfam" title="Oxfam supplied and installed a water tank in the Huth camp for internally displaced people. Photo: Hind Aleryani/Oxfam" height="890" width="1400" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/93979lpr-building-oxfam-watertank-1400x890.jpg" /></p> <p><em>Oxfam supplied and installed a water tank in the Huth camp for internally displaced people. Many families left Sa'dah and travelled to Huth due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Photo: Hind Aleryani/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>April</h3> <p>Oxfam evacuates international staff from Yemen as security deteriorates. Oxfam programs continue thanks to national staff managing to distribute urgent cash grants and water as prices rocket and fuel supplies dwindle.</p> <p>We put several tons of water equipment on standby in our Oxfordshire, UK warehouse and begin to negotiate getting it to Yemen.</p> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/nepal-earthquake-nepal/nepal-earthquake-response-six-months" rel="nofollow"><strong>Nepal is hit by an earthquake</strong></a> which destroys whole villages and makes millions homeless. Local staff respond within hours of the disaster, and a whole team of technical experts are on the first planes into Kathmandu.</p> <h3>May</h3> <p>Within two weeks of the Nepal earthquake, we set up systems to deliver water to over 50,000 people, despite difficult terrain and damaged roads. By the end of May, we manage to reach 150,000 people.</p> <p><strong>After elections in Burundi</strong>, 40,000 people flee to neighboring countries in fear of violence. Staff help Burundians arriving in DRC, and assess needs of people who have fetched up on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.</p> <p><strong>In Ethiopia, the spectre of another water shortage</strong> begins to loom in Somali region, and staff set up a water tanking operation to help 10,000 people.</p> <p>Planned <strong>peace talks for Yemen</strong> are postponed, deepening the fears for lives, health and livelihoods. Oxfam staff continue to supply water in the governorates of Hodeidah and Amran.</p> <h3>June</h3> <p>The Tanzanian authorities allow Burundian refugees to settle at a pre-existing camp where Oxfam worked with Rwandan refugees 20 years ago - some of our old water networks are still working!</p> <p><strong>In Haiti, a rise in cholera cases</strong> means we extend our cholera prevention work across the North and Central zones.</p> <p>Our team in Syria complete a <a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/15-08-27-oxfam-improving-access-safe-water-syria"><strong>reverse-osmosis plant</strong></a> to extract and treat groundwater contaminated with hydrogen sulphide for 35,000 people. Meanwhile, we send a team of international staff back into Yemen. And the world receives the first warnings of an impending <strong><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35159826" rel="nofollow">El Niño effect</a></strong> - the climatic phenomenon that causes severe weather disruption across the world.</p> <h3><img alt="Jerry cans waiting to be filled with clean water at a newly installed water point, Juba, South Sudan. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam" title="Jerry cans waiting to be filled with clean water at a newly installed water point, Juba, South Sudan. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam" height="762" width="1220" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/oxfam-south-sudan-camp_in_juba_area_87403lpr_-web_1220x762.jpg" /></h3> <p><em>Jerry cans waiting to be filled with clean water at a newly installed water point, Juba, South Sudan. An outbreak of cholera in this area highlighted the importance of clean water for the camps residents. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>July</h3> <p><strong>South Sudan</strong> marks its fourth birthday, with two-thirds of its population lacking the food they need to stay healthy.</p> <p>The <strong>monsoons arrive in Nepal</strong>, and bring further misery to homeless people, causing severe landslides. Local staff, undeterred by sheeting rain, walk miles through hills to isolated villages to fix water supplies, and improve sanitation.</p> <p>Work begins in Ethiopia to build the water network in Jewi camp to provide for 50,000 people. The revamped teams in Yemen quickly get to work and plan to target 300,000 people over the following six weeks.</p> <h3>August</h3> <p><strong>In Pakistan</strong> Oxfam begins working with a local partner and the authorities to distribute basic essentials and help evacuate people and cattle after monsoons and deadly flooding.</p> <p>Severe rains also hit Myanmar making hundreds of thousands of people homeless, and we give immediate support to communities in the areas we work in. The predicted El Niño effect starts to show signs in weather patterns across the world. Food crises loom in Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.</p> <p>In Yemen the situation becomes even worse with airstrikes and the closure of ports; nevertheless, Oxfam has reached 300,000 so far this financial year, largely with safe drinking water.</p> <h3>September</h3> <p>The effects of El Niño grow starker, with 11 countries across Central and Latin America facing severe and worsening droughts. Oxfam begins its response by giving out emergency cash grants to 20,000 people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Colombia, while ramping up water trucking, provision of animal feed and support for animal vaccinations in drought affected-areas of Ethiopia. Basic goods are also provided to communities devastated by heavy rainfall around the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh.</p> <h3>October</h3> <p>The rainy season is set to hit Tanzania so Oxfam prepares to move some refugees out of one particularly flood-prone camp. In refugee camps in Italy Oxfam starts distributing blankets, as well as other practical goods that can be worn or carried.</p> <p>There is bleak news in South Sudan with 80% more people in need of food than last year. Some light shines through though, including the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/south-sudan/small-business-owners-working-against-odds-help-rebuild-south-sudan" rel="nofollow"><strong>story of Elena</strong></a>, who we find out is still running a restaurant set up with Oxfam's help several years ago. In Ethiopia, the government declares that 8.2m people will be in need of food by December.</p> <p><img alt="Hassan Hussein, a refugee from Syria, pleads with police to allow his family into a registration center for migrants and refugees in Preševo, southern Serbia, on October 5, 2015. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam" title="Hassan Hussein, a refugee from Syria, pleads with police to allow his family into a registration center for migrants and refugees in Preševo, southern Serbia, on October 5, 2015. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam" height="826" width="1240" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/94589lpr-man-shouting-holding-child-1240.jpg" /></p> <p><em>Hassan Hussein, a refugee from Syria, pleads with police to allow his family into a registration center for migrants and refugees in Preševo, southern Serbia, on October 5, 2015. After registering, the refugees here are given a 72-hour permit to travel onwards through Serbia to Croatia. Photo: Sam Tarling/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>November</h3> <p>There is a spike in the number of <a href="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what-we-do/emergency-response/refugee-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>refugees arriving in Europe</strong></a>. Oxfam continues to provide information points to help refugees navigate both tough journeys and legal minefields. Oxfam provides food as well as water and sanitation facilities on the Greek island of Lesbos, while handing out winter clothing in Serbia.</p> <p>The rains come in Tanzania, badly affecting refugee camps: latrines are washed away, while water trucks struggle to make it through swampy tracks.</p> <p>Six months pass since the Nepal earthquake, and Oxfam has now reached nearly 450,000 people. In Ethiopia, Oxfam prepares to scale up provision of water and sanitation facilities in the worst hit areas.</p> <h3>December</h3> <p>Oxfam joins the clean-up operation after heavy flooding in southern India, distributing hygiene kits and dry food rations, aiming to reach 48,000 people.</p> <p>The current and projected impact of the <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/ethiopia/four-simple-strategies-which-are-helping-ethiopian-farmers-adapt-climate-change" rel="nofollow">El Niño drought in Ethiopia</a></strong> leads the Ethiopian government to stop food exports to South Sudan. Oxfam attempts to mitigate the impact of this by distributing food vouchers, which support local markets as well as keeping people fed.</p> <p>Papua New Guinea is also affected by drought, Oxfam continues public health promotion and aims to reach 114,000 people with water supplies and livelihood support.</p> <p>As we enter 2016 Oxfam staff and partners remain hard at work responding to ongoing conflicts and disasters around the world, and they won't stop doing all they can to help people in crisis situations.</p> <p><em>This entry originally posted by Tim Bierley, Oxfam Humanitarian Administrator, on 31 December 2015, on <a href="http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2015/12/oxfams-humanitarian-year-2015" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam GB</strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Top photo: Oxfam distributes hygiene kits in Sankhu. The kits contain a bucket for clean water, a bar of soap, oral rehydration salts, and towels, helping people to meet their basic sanitation needs. Oxfam has also provided the community with emergency latrines to help prevent the outbreak of infectious diseases. Credit: Aubrey Wade/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/donate" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Donate to Oxfam" title="Donate to Oxfam" height="47" width="206" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/donate-now-arrow.png" /></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Oxfam’s humanitarian year 2015</h2></div> Fri, 01 Jan 2016 17:57:31 +0000 Guest Blogger 33872 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/16-01-01-oxfams-humanitarian-year-2015#comments 7,000 people, one clinic, no running water: Ebola and West Africa’s chronic health crisis http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-04-17-ebola-and-west-africas-chronic-health-crisis <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>The Ebola crisis has drawn attention to the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29324595" rel="nofollow">state of health care systems</a> in West Africa. Here our Ebola policy lead, Jess Skinner, describes how health care workers in Liberia have continued to provide basic services throughout the Ebola crisis, despite the personal risks involved and a chronic lack of resources. Oxfam is calling for long term investment in health from governments and donors.</em></p> <p>Liberia’s Bardnesville district in Montserrado County has never had excellent health care. But when Ebola struck last year, four of its five health clinics closed down out of fear of infection. For more than seven thousand people, the Sister Agnus Memorial Maternity Clinic became the only place to go.  A few days ago I was there, listening to one midwife, Mary,  talk about the year of Ebola – and her hope of a better future in which everyone in Liberia can reach decent health services. </p> <p>Mary is kind, open and inspiring. Throughout the Ebola outbreak, she and her staff kept the clinic open, continued to deliver babies, and meet the needs of sick pregnant women and children – many with malaria. </p> <p><strong>At the beginning of the <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow">Ebola crisis</a>, Mary was given only a raincoat and gloves to protect herself from infection. </strong>One day during a delivery, she got blood on her face and in her eyes. She was so scared she immediately washed her face with heavily chlorinated water; she still suffers from pain in her eye today. </p> <p>During those early days of the outbreak, Mary wanted to give up, she was so fearful of Ebola. But one of her friends encouraged her to keep going, to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies from the everyday illnesses and complications that did not stop and wait for Ebola to end. </p> <p>Over the year, two cases of Ebola were identified at the clinic, and were successfully referred. Thanks to the quick action of staff at Sister Agnus, both these people survived. </p> <p><strong>The four other health clinics in the area were forced to close</strong>, not because they were not brave, like Mary, but because they did not have the facilities to effectively provide infection control to protect their staff and patients. Without infection control, the clinics could have turned into hotspots for the spread of disease. </p> <p>In fact, it was only luck that prevented that happening in Sister Agnus. Like many other health clinics in Liberia, it does not have running water or a solid waste disposal system to safely dispose of medical waste. That is why Oxfam has been renovating Sister Agnus’s water and sanitation system to ensure that it not only has access to water, but running water that can be used to flush toilets and keep the clinic clean. Oxfam is also providing an incinerator to dispose of infectious and dangerous waste.</p> <p><img alt="Water tank build by Oxfam, in Cynthia Nelson Health Center, Logan, Liberia. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam" title="Water tank build by Oxfam, in Cynthia Nelson Health Center, Logan, Liberia. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam" height="453" width="680" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/ogb-91058_ebola-cynthia-nelson-health-centre-water-logan-liberia_abbie-trayler-smith_680.jpg" /></p> <p><em>We are supporting water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in Cynthia Nelson Center, in Logan Town. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam</em></p> <p><strong>Across Liberia, the great majority of health facilities fail to meet national standards for water, sanitation and hygiene.</strong> Less than half have hand-washing facilities close to their toilets. Only 50% have year-round access to water and 20% do not have a source of water on site. In one clinic in Gardnersville, Montserrado, the caretaker has to walk for 15 minutes to collect water. Incinerators are vital for infection control, but only 37% of health facilities have one and even more fail to meet medical standards for safe disposal. This means that medical waste is left lying around or dumped in rivers.</p> <p>Sister Agnus is better than most, but it comes at a cost. The clinic is run by the church and requires patients to pay minimum fees to cover salaries and medicines. Only 7% of Montserrado’s community health facilities are government run, and they often have poorer standards of care. People rely heavily on non- state health facilities because they are often closer to hand and have supplies such as medicines.  </p> <p><strong>Across both private and public facilities, more needs to be done</strong> to support them to rapidly get up to standard; ensuring people can confidently access safe health care. Liberia’s government must have the oversight, to monitor and support facilities to meet such basic standards. But raising standards will not happen without determination and resources.</p> <p>However, evidence has shown that even the smallest fees will deter people, especially the poorest, from accessing health care, and will push countless more into poverty. Investments in health care need to work towards a public health system that is free at the point of use.</p> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/never-again-building-resilient-health-systems-and-learning-ebola-crisis" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Building resilient health systems and learning from the Ebola crisis - Oxfam report" title="Building resilient health systems and learning from the Ebola crisis - Oxfam report" height="383" width="300" style="float: right;" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/ebola-liberia-health-report-thumbnail-300.jpg" /></a><strong>The health system in Liberia collapsed under the weight of the Ebola crisis</strong>, with hundreds of primary health facilities being forced to close and communities being unable to access safe treatment for non-Ebola health concerns. Children missed out on vaccinations and deliveries at health facilities dropped by 26%; such secondary health impacts need to be addressed. </p> <p>In <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/never-again-building-resilient-health-systems-and-learning-ebola-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>Never Again: Building resilient health systems and learning from the Ebola crisis</strong></a>, Oxfam draws attention to the weak state of healthcare systems in West Africa and calls on Governments and donors to provide long-term financial and technical investment to build free and resilient health systems that are better equipped to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and offer protection to courageous health workers like Mary and the communities she seeks to serve.</p> <p>As World Bank spring meetings get underway in <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/international-financial-institutions" rel="nofollow"><strong>Washington</strong></a> this week, recovering from the impacts of the Ebola crisis will be firmly on the agenda. International donors must stand by Liberia – and the other countries affected by Ebola – and offer the vital support that is needed.</p> <h3>What you can do</h3> <ul><li>Support <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam's Ebola response</strong></a></li> <li>Download <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/never-again-building-resilient-health-systems-and-learning-ebola-crisis" rel="nofollow"><strong>Never Again: Building Resilient Health Systems: Learning from the Ebola Crisis</strong></a></li> <li>Read more <strong><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/research?search=ebola" rel="nofollow">Oxfam reports on Ebola response</a></strong></li> </ul><p><em>Top photo:A health care worker, wearing basic infection prevention and control protection at Sister Agnes Clinic in Gardensville, Liberia. Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>7,000 people, one clinic, no running water: Ebola and West Africa’s chronic health crisis</h2></div> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 07:11:45 +0000 Guest Blogger 26308 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-04-17-ebola-and-west-africas-chronic-health-crisis#comments Ebola again in Liberia: Hope dampened but not destroyed http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-03-24-ebola-again-liberia-hope-dampened-not-destroyed <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>No complacency:</strong> The mood after 20 days without infections in Liberia may be dampened but hope is not destroyed by the newly confirmed case of Ebola in Monrovia. It is a stark reminder to keep up vigilance, attention and investments.</p> <p>Almost half way through to the magic number of 42 – the number of days without new infections considered the minimum to declare a place “Ebola free” - a new case was <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31991748" rel="nofollow">confirmed yesterday</a> in Liberia. The people of Liberia and the many international helpers in the country had started preparing to celebrate defeating the disease while in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea the acute fight continues. Certainly this new case is disappointing. But hopefully something good will come out of this.</p> <p>Travelling in the past days in Monrovia I noticed the lack of public message displays on Ebola prevention in the streets. And most organisations I visited are in transition mode out of acute response into rehabilitation already.  This was in stark contrast to what I saw a few days earlier in Sierra Leone, where public warnings and acute control measures are ever present.</p> <p><img height="654" width="1024" class="media-element file-default" alt="Ebola public messages, Sierra Leone. Photo: Carsten Völz/Oxfam" title="Ebola public messages, Sierra Leone. Photo: Carsten Völz/Oxfam" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/ebola-public-messages-sierra-leone-oxfam-carten-volz-21mar2015-1024.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>After the many hard months with fear</strong>, disruption of normal life, loss of more than 10,000 lives who were the loved ones of families and friends and loss of income it is understandable that people urgently want to “move on” and return to normality.</p> <p>And we definitely have to start working seriously on recovery. The countries have been shattered. Economies need to be restarted, jobs and incomes are urgently needed and stronger health services need to be built.</p> <p>However, I think even without this unfortunate new case in Liberia it clearly is too early to already move on and phase out of emergency mode.</p> <p>We all knew that risks of undetected cases and of infected people moving across regions and borders are substantial. As long as one country in the region has active cases, the entire region remains at risk. And given the long-term under-investments into health structures and systems in West Africa, the international support to manage the acute crisis is critical.</p> <p><strong>We cannot stop responding to this crisis until Ebola has been eradicated from West Africa.</strong> There is no room for complacency! And we know that in addition to international support community ownership, understanding and engagement are critical or treatment, safe burials and contact tracing, cannot be effective.</p> <p><img height="646" width="1024" class="media-element file-default" alt="Oxafm Ebola WASH facilities at a school in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Carsten Völz/Oxfam" title="Oxafm Ebola WASH facilities at a school in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Carsten Völz/Oxfam" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/ebola-wash-facilities-school-monrovia-liberia-oxfam-carsten-volz-21mar2015-1024.jpg" /></p> <p><strong>Currently this crisis still has the attention of the international community.</strong> The more than €4billion committed by international donors to fight Ebola, equal 15 times the combined annual health budgets of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. We need to ensure that this external attention and support translates into both continued active fighting the epidemic until we reach zero cases everywhere and long-term committed resources to building up the health structures bottom-up and to strengthen disaster response systems in the region as part of a larger resilience approach.</p> <p><strong>We still have a good chance to reach 42-days celebration points</strong> in all three countries in the coming months. And we have a duty to ensure that as a mid-term outcome the region is better prepared and resilient to risks and shocks, including to renewed disease outbreaks.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Carsten Völz, Humanitarian Director, Oxfam International, on 25 March 2015.</em></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow">Oxfam is responding to the Ebola outbreak</a> and will contribute to the recovery. We plan to spend $43 million in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal to help over 3.2 million people. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, we have reached over 1.1 million people through working with communities and supporting medical facilities with water, sanitation and cleaning equipment.</em></p> <p><em>We know that to successfully tackle Ebola communities need to be fully involved in the fight. That’s why we are piloting bottom-up approaches where local people promote health messages to their own communities – we’ve seen how effective this is to improve understanding and change risky behavior. Without this, other aspects such as treatment, safe burials and contact tracing cannot work.</em></p> <p><em>All photos: Carsten Völz/Oxfam, 21 March 2015</em></p> <p><em>Top: Oxfam water pump at a community health clinic, Monrovia, Liberia.</em></p> <p><em>Middle: Ebola public messaging, Sierra Leone.</em></p> <p><em>Bottom: Oxfam water and sanitation (WASH) facilities at a school in Monrovia, Liberia.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>Support Oxfam's Ebola response</strong></a></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><strong>Share this powerful photo story: <a href="https://oxfaminternational.exposure.co/water-against-ebola" rel="nofollow">Ensuring medical facilities are safe and hygienic in Sierra Leone</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Read: <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/liberia-ebola-response/agnes-door-door-volunteer-helps-prevent-ebola-spread-liberia" rel="nofollow">how Oxfam door-to-door volunteers are helping prevent Ebola's spread in Liberia</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Ebola again in Liberia: Hope dampened but not destroyed</h2></div> Tue, 24 Mar 2015 12:16:22 +0000 Carsten Völz 25973 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-03-24-ebola-again-liberia-hope-dampened-not-destroyed#comments Ebola crisis: Major concern in Sierra Leone as transmission remains high http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-01-06-ebola-crisis-major-concern-sierra-leone-transmission-remains-high <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Catherine Meredith, Ebola Response Communications Coordinator in West Africa, shares here the latest Oxfam Ebola response update, from 6 January 2015.</strong></em></p> <h3>Crisis overview</h3> <p>This week the total number of Ebola cases has passed 20,000. Although overall the epidemic seems to have stabilized, the large number of new cases in Sierra Leone is a major concern. Transmission remains high, especially in Freetown and the Western Area, where <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/14-12-23-ebola-has-cancelled-christmas-life-under-quarantine-sierra-leone"><strong>a government led surge in searching for Ebola cases has been in place over the Christmas and New Year period</strong></a> along with a lock down on public gatherings and travel. Oxfam has supported the surge through our community health committees and construction of two new Ebola community care centers which are soon to be opened.</p> <h3>Key figures:</h3> <ul><li><strong>Oxfam has directly reached over 1.1 million people,</strong> through making house to house visits to raise to raise awareness about Ebola and other activities.</li> <li>We've distributed 14,525 hygiene kits to individual households.</li> <li>We've supported 35 health facilities, providing water and sanitation facilities in nine health facilities in Sierra Leone and four in Liberia, as well as providing clinical hygiene equipment for 18 health units.</li> </ul><p><img alt="Handwashing training, Claratown, Liberia. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam" title="Handwashing training, Claratown, Liberia. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam" height="733" width="1100" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/89435scr-boy-handwashing-training-claratown-liberia.jpg" /></p> <h3>Sierra Leone</h3> <p>There have been 9,633 Ebola cases reported and 2,877 deaths. The epidemic is most concentrated in three districts where Oxfam is working, Bombali, Port Loko and the Western Area, which includes the capital Freetown.</p> <ul><li>We've opened Masiaka community care center in Port Loko the first open of four centers Oxfam is constructing. The center is being managed by the International Rescue Committee.</li> </ul><h3>Liberia</h3> <p>There have been 8,018 Ebola cases reported and 3,423 deaths. Case numbers have been decreasing but a surge in new cases has been reported from Grand Cape Mount in Western Liberia. The other remaining hotspot areas are in and around the capital Monrovia.</p> <ul><li>Oxfam's active case finding is identifying up to a third of all new Ebola cases in the country and up to half of all Ebola cases identified around Monrovia. 30 suspected Ebola patients were referred by Oxfam in three weeks of December.</li> <li>Our engineering team is focusing on drilling boreholes in Monrovia to provide clean water for communities and health facilities. This will help in the safe treatment of Ebola patients and provide for the long term.</li> <li>Schools are scheduled to re-open in March. Oxfam is working to improve water and sanitation facilities in selected schools to make for a safer environment, before they reopen.</li> </ul><h3>Guinea</h3> <ul><li>2, 730 cases of Ebola and 1,739 deaths. Case incidence is fluctuating, transmission persists in the capital Conakry.</li> </ul><h3>Mali, Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau</h3> <p>There have been no new cases of Ebola in Mali since 6 December. Oxfam is working with young people to raise awareness about Ebola in communities and schools. We have distributed hygiene kits to 109 schools. In the at risk countries of Senegal, Gambia and Guinea Bissau Oxfam and partners are disseminating messages about Ebola via radio stations, through posters, text messages, hygiene kit distribution and door-to-door outreach.</p> <p><img alt="Fatimata, at Lakka Ebola treatment center, Sierra Leone. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam" title="Fatimata, at Lakka Ebola treatment center, Sierra Leone. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam" height="548" width="975" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/water-fatimata-bangura-lakka-fotografia-pablo-tosco-oxfam-ediima20141128_0822_14.jpg" /></p> <h3>Challenges</h3> <p><strong>Stronger leadership and coordination of the international response is needed</strong> to ensure there is no duplication of efforts and that actors are working together effectively. Quarantined communities we work with in Liberia and Sierra Leone have reported that they are not receiving food or not enough food. Access to non-Ebola healthcare services, water and hygiene are further major concerns.</p> <p>Oxfam is advocating on these issues; we have also <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMglQHa6n34&amp;index=4&amp;list=PL80F9E10344322839" rel="nofollow"><strong>distributed hygiene kits to quarantined communities</strong></a> and <strong><a href="https://oxfaminternational.exposure.co/water-against-ebola" rel="nofollow">we are improving water supplies and sanitation</a></strong> in affected communities. The lack of bed capacity for Ebola patients in some locations, and the spread of the disease into hard-to-reach areas, raise further challenges. We are establishing rapid response teams to help control any new outbreaks anywhere in Liberia or Sierra Leone.</p> <h3>Community led mobilization</h3> <p>Barriers to overcoming the epidemic include stigma around Ebola, misconceptions, denial and traditional burial practices. We're working with influential community representatives, youth, religious leaders, midwives, chiefs and others to help improve understanding. In Sierra Leone our community health committees are selected by their community to lead the efforts to combat Ebola, they develop action plans for the specific barriers to stopping the spread of Ebola in their neighborhood. Around Freetown 120 committees are reaching out to 400 households each. The committees will also roll out an emergency interim care initiative to provide rapid rehydration for probable Ebola patients.</p> <p><em><strong>Oxfam’s Ebola response is focused on preventing the spread of the disease and supporting medical facilities with water, sanitation, cleaning equipment and protective clothing.</strong> We are aiming to spend $43mn (£28mn) in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal to help over 3.2 million people at risk of catching the disease. So far, Oxfam has reached over 1 million beneficiaries in Liberia and Sierra Leone. For updates, follow <a href="http://twitter.com/Oxfam" rel="nofollow"><strong>@Oxfam</strong></a>.</em></p> <p><em>Photos 1 and 3: Lakka Ebola treatment center - where people from the suburbs of Freetown come to seek testing and treatment. For each patient the center requires about 250 liters of water per day, with differing concentrations of chlorine depending on the use.</em></p> <p><em>Photo 2: Handwashing training, Claratown, Liberia.</em></p> <p><em>All photos: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><strong>Support </strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam's Ebola response</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Share this <a href="https://oxfaminternational.exposure.co/from-the-other-side-of-the-string" rel="nofollow">powerful photo story on the effect of quarantines in Sierra Leone</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Read how <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/liberia-ebola-response/agnes-door-door-volunteer-helps-prevent-ebola-spread-liberia" rel="nofollow">Oxfam door-to-door volunteers are helping prevent Ebola's spread in Liberia</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Ebola crisis: Major concern in Sierra Leone as transmission remains high</h2></div> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 11:50:31 +0000 Melanie Gallant 24707 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/15-01-06-ebola-crisis-major-concern-sierra-leone-transmission-remains-high#comments Ebola has cancelled Christmas: Life under quarantine in Sierra Leone http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-12-23-ebola-has-cancelled-christmas-life-under-quarantine-sierra-leone <div class="field field-name-body"><p>When working in communications and media relations, a big part of your job is to show and tell the world what you have seen. One of my first assignments in Sierra Leone was to watch Oxfam distributing hygiene kits in the slums of Freetown and talk with quarantined families.</p> <p><strong>If implemented properly, quarantines provide an opportunity</strong> to pre-empt the risk of further spread Ebola by facilitating contact tracing, effective burial management, and ensuring a conducive environment for prevention work.</p> <p>However, without proper and timely support, <a href="https://oxfaminternational.exposure.co/from-the-other-side-of-the-string" rel="nofollow"><strong>quarantines can further spread the disease</strong></a> as people move out in search of food and water, and other communities underreport cases or deaths in order to avoid quarantines.</p> <h3>Life on the other side of the line</h3> <p>I met Haijja on Malama Thomas Street, where families crowd into small corrugated iron houses. She was seven months pregnant and had been under quarantine for 7 days by then.</p> <p>“The situation is not good for me,” Hajja told us from the other side of the quarantine line - a piece of bright pink string separating 15 families from the rest of the residents in Susan’s Bay - a slum in Freetown.</p> <p><strong>Quarantines can also increase the risk to women and girls</strong>, and to those in need of non-Ebola health care – like Haijja.</p> <p>“On Friday I needed to go to the hospital, and they didn’t allow to me to go because I am in quarantine,” she said. “I am not sure if because of that they wont allow me to go this coming Friday, they don’t tell me how soon I can go. I don’t understand because I don’t know anything.”</p> <p>In fact, <strong>many women’s groups fear an increase in maternal mortality</strong> and teenage pregnancies, as services for at-risk women and girls have been put on hold.</p> <p>Recently introduced operating procedures by the National Ebola Response Coordination Centre (NERC) on quarantine management and a UN led Ebola gender assessment are both steps in the right direction.</p> <p>But more - such as putting in place a monitoring system to ensure that support reaches quarantined communities on time, and better coordination of efforts between the Government, UN agencies and NGOs – is needed.</p> <h3>What Oxfam is doing</h3> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam is currently providing hygiene kits</strong></a> to families under quarantine so they can protect themselves from infection and stay healthy.</p> <p>The buckets can be used to protect water from contamination – a big problem in slum areas – and contain much needed soap, water purifying tables, and chlorine to disinfect. I was really impressed that they also included sanitary products for women. I can only imagine how happy I would be to have these few items of comfort in such a difficult situation.</p> <p>“It is very important,” said Hajja referring to the hygiene kit and the information session on Ebola given by Oxfam during distribution. “Because washing is part of us now. I know if we use soap to wash our hands and this chlorine that they give to us to disinfect, I know it protects us a lot. And if we continue, maybe some of us will get out of quarantine safely.”</p> <p>Oxfam is also key member of the WASH consortium, where plans are underway to provide much needed water and sanitation services to quarantined slum areas.  </p> <h3>'Ebola has cancelled Christmas'</h3> <p>Instead of visiting my family in Moncton, New Brunswick for Christmas this year, I will be part of the small yet mighty Oxfam team spending its holidays in Freetown.</p> <p>Usually Christmas here means carnival, beach parties and endless reunions with family and friends. Many from the Sierra Leonean Diaspora save their vacation time to spend their holidays here.</p> <p>“It’s the best time to be in Sierra Leone,” a co-worker told me. “But not this year. Ebola has cancelled Christmas”.</p> <p>He said he hopes I can come back when Sierra Leone has beat Ebola – one day. I said we are all working hard to make sure that day is soon.</p> <p></p> <p><em>Melanie Gallant is Oxfam Canada’s Media Relations Officer. She is currently on assignment in West Africa to support Oxfam’s Ebola response. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/melgalla" rel="nofollow">@MelGalla</a>.</em></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam’s Ebola response</strong></a> is focused on preventing the spread of the disease and supporting medical facilities with water, sanitation, cleaning equipment and protective clothing. We are aiming to spend $43mn (£28mn) in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Senegal to help over 3.2 million people at risk of catching the disease. So far, Oxfam has reached over 1 million beneficiaries in Liberia and Sierra Leone. For updates, follow <a href="http://twitter.com/Oxfam" rel="nofollow"><strong>@Oxfam.</strong></a></em></p> <p><em>Originally published by <a href="http://www.oxfam.ca/blogs/ebola-life-other-side-line" rel="nofollow">Oxfam Canada</a>.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/ebola-response" rel="nofollow"><strong>Support Oxfam's Ebola response</strong></a></p> <p><a href="https://oxfaminternational.exposure.co/from-the-other-side-of-the-string" rel="nofollow"><strong>Share this powerful photo story of Oxfam's response</strong></a></p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/liberia-ebola-response/agnes-door-door-volunteer-helps-prevent-ebola-spread-liberia" rel="nofollow">Read how Oxfam door-to-door volunteers are helping prevent Ebola's spread in Liberia</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Ebola has cancelled Christmas: Life under quarantine in Sierra Leone</h2></div> Tue, 23 Dec 2014 08:53:48 +0000 Melanie Gallant 24291 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-12-23-ebola-has-cancelled-christmas-life-under-quarantine-sierra-leone#comments A verdict on the G20: Some progress on inequality, little new on Ebola http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-11-27-verdict-g20-some-progress-inequality-little-new-ebola <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Last week I travelled to Brisbane, Australia to take the voice of poor people to the powerful – the summit of the leaders of the Group of 20 most powerful economies. </p> <p>Oxfam’s verdict on the Summit? Mixed. The G20’s promise to pursue inclusive and sustainable growth is welcome, but their response to the Ebola crisis is dangerously inadequate. </p> <h3>The G20 reaction was disappointing</h3> <p>First, the bad news. The Summit was a key opportunity for world leaders to coordinate their efforts on funds, resources and people required to contain the Ebola outbreak. </p> <p><strong>There was <a href="https://www.g20.org/sites/default/files/g20_resources/library/g20_leaders_brisbane_statement_ebola.pdf" rel="nofollow">good will and concern</a>: Leaders said they were saddened by the suffering and loss of life Ebola is inflicting</strong>, and mindful of the serious humanitarian, social and economic impacts on affected countries. </p> <p>But overall, the G20 reaction was hugely disappointing. Leaders did not offer urgent or specific commitments to deliver medical support, funding and military assistance needed to bring the crisis under control, or to build robust public health infrastructure to prevent future pandemics. </p> <p>There is now a real risk that the UN target of 70 per cent of cases being treated and 70 per cent of burials being conducted safely by 1 December, will not be met. I am concerned that the G20’s warms words will do little for those fearing for their lives in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. </p> <p><strong>The G20 represent some 85 per cent of global gross national product and 75 per cent of world trade.</strong> This gives them unrivalled policy influence over their own countries and others. Their decisions directly affect the poorest countries.</p> <p>That’s why the G20 have a responsibility, and why they cannot afford to ignore the problems of the inequality threatening to undermine the efforts of millions of people to escape poverty and hunger. </p> <h3>Commitments to address extreme inequality</h3> <p>This brings me to a more hopeful note: Contrary to all expectations, G20 leaders made a commitment in Brisbane to inclusive growth and to address inequality. </p> <p>Extreme inequality is growing globally, including within G20 countries. Oxfam has argued that reducing inequality needs to be front and center of the G20’s plan to lift GDP – not least because <strong>the global consensus is now that inequality is bad for growth itself</strong>.</p> <p>In terms of tangible steps towards tackling that inequality: The G20 has made welcome <strong>commitments to and progress on cracking down on tax dodging by multinational companies</strong>. </p> <p>But what’s on the table currently is not enough to stop poor countries being bled dry. </p> <p>Despite the best efforts of the OECD, working with the G20 to reform global tax rules, <strong>most developing countries are still excluded from those negotiations</strong>. Luxembourg, a tax haven, has a seat at the decision-making table. Yet Sierra Leone – where Ebola is raging and tax incentives for six multinational companies are the equivalent of eight times the health budget – does not. This is not fair. </p> <h3>A World Tax Summit</h3> <p>It is time to for the G20 to accept that <strong>a more ambitious, far-reaching and inclusive process is needed to fix the broken international tax system</strong> once and for all. </p> <p>That’s why Oxfam is calling for a World Tax Summit in 2015 - to set the basis for what should become a more permanent body to set, implement and arbitrate on the international tax rules in a fairer way. </p> <p>Next year, the G20 will be chaired by Turkey. <strong>The Turkish government has said it will put inequality and inclusivity on the agenda</strong> for its G20 presidency in 2015. Oxfam will be there, holding all to account.</p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/action/governments-must-tackle-inequality-now" rel="nofollow"><strong>Join Oxfam's Even It Up Campaign to end extreme inequality</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>A verdict on the G20: Some progress on inequality, little new on Ebola</h2></div> Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:19:59 +0000 Winnie Byanyima 23999 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-11-27-verdict-g20-some-progress-inequality-little-new-ebola#comments