Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Health

In the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak, the humanitarian community is taking a hard look at international response mechanisms, evaluating what went well and what can be improved. One of the main areas of criticism has been the initial slow response when the disease took hold in spring 2014. These concerns have prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO), among others, to pursue major reforms directed at strengthening disease-fighting capabilities. These changes should look carefully at communications with affected populations: the crisis was one of information – and especially information in the right language – as much as anything else. Information…
Humanitarians are increasingly being asked to deliver more. Many agencies and donors now require them to report on the impact of their work, and to prove that the response they mounted was the best possible option and the most effective and efficient path to recovery – in other words, finding and using ‘what works’. There are two challenges with this: first, measuring impact and showing proof is often extremely difficult in emergency contexts; and second, current systems and mechanisms for generating information and knowledge are often not capable of meeting these additional expectations. It is possible that new or adapted…
The Ebola crisis has generated an unprecedented need for training during an emergency response. The rapid scaling up of the response during September–December 2014 saw the construction of six UK-funded treatment centres (ETCs) across Sierra Leone, in Kerry Town, Port Loko, Makeni, Moyamba and Freetown, bringing the number of UK-supported beds to over 700. In October 2014 Save the Children took over the running of the largest of these centres, in Kerry Town. The maintenance of each centre requires a large number of staff. Unlike previous disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, which had huge influxes of international aid…
In September 2014, five aid workers from a local NGO were disposing of dead bodies in Forécariah, western Guinea. The human remains, believed to be of Ebola victims, needed to be collected and buried following a special procedure to avoid spreading the disease, which had already killed 430 people in Guinea alone. Humanitarian agencies had taken over the family burial ritual in what had become a hazardous job, and not only for the risks of contracting Ebola when handling the bodies. As the team was working in the area, a hostile crowd attacked them. A week earlier, in Nzérékoré, 530…
The Ebola crisis marked a coming of age for the use of mobile technologies in the humanitarian sector, with food security assessments leading the way. Movement restrictions and quarantines, in addition to fear of contracting the disease, made implementation of traditional face-to-face food security assessments in Ebola-affected communities extremely difficult. The rapid spread of Ebola and concerns as to how the outbreak could negatively influence market access and food availability also created a need for regular updates on food security. To overcome these challenges, the World Food Programme (WFP) deployed a fully automated, mobile-phone based remote food security monitoring system…
As for many organisations, the Ebola outbreak was a new experience for MapAction, which had never previously responded to a large-scale health emergency. The gravity of the outbreak and evident applicability of geospatial analysis to inform the humanitarian response led the organisation to mobilise a large proportion of its resources in support. Over a period of four months, MapAction deployed 11 volunteer Geospatial Information professionals and three paid personnel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Mali. In addi-tion, remote support was provided prior to, during and since those field deployments to a variety of agencies, including the UN Office for…
As part of its Ebola response work in Sierra Leone and Liberia, Plan International is helping children and youth groups actively engage in prevention and response efforts, whilst also benefiting from peer support.[1] Activities are building on Plan’s prior longer-term development work on child and youth engagement and youth-led media activities, including activities supported by Plan’s Youth Advisory Panels and its Global Voice for Change project.[2] To date Plan has connected 18 young people (nine female, nine male) between 14 and 24 years of age from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Norway. The young people are part of child and youth…
Because we see our people, our brothers, speaking our language, we can believe what they say Female focus group respondent, John Thorpe Community The Ebola crisis in West Africa was the defining humanitarian crisis of 2014 for Oxfam, and arguably for the humanitarian community at large. As the number of Ebola cases escalated, Oxfam – as a WASH agency in what was initially considered a medical emergency – struggled to find a constructive role. More needed to be done on prevention, so Oxfam decided to focus on Ebola prevention activities with community health volunteers in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In…
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa exacted an especially heavy toll on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the death toll across these three countries had exceeded 10,000 by early March 2015, a year and three months after the first index case in December 2013. There is near-consensus that individual governments and the international community were slow to realise the significance of the outbreak and mobilise a response; indeed, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was criticised in April 2014 for crying wolf when it warned about the seriousness of the looming crisis. Much has been…
Military contributions have featured prominently in the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)’s public call for civil–military collaboration – a first for the organisation – has been echoed across the wider global public health community, and a variety of agencies have stated the need for military logistics, communications, planning and coordination capacities. In response, several countries have sent military deployments to West Africa. The US has committed 2,900 troops and military equipment to Liberia in order to assist in the construction of treatment centres and provide medical expertise. On 8 October 2014 the…
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