A girl sits at her desk at school in Guinea. Her school has just reopened after the Ebola crisis and Unicef is supporting teachers to implement safety measures against the disease. Unicef 2015 Perrett

Ebola

Should we still be worried?

Home > Ebola: Should we still be worried?

Liberia recently announced that it released its last Ebola patient after going a week without any new cases of the virus. Schools are reopening in Guinea and Liberia and the media coverage has died down. After almost a year since the beginning of the outbreak, this is great news about a disease that has infected almost 24,000 people.

So if Ebola numbers are going down and the media aren’t publishing stories about Ebola, should we still be worried?

The answer is, yes. Ebola is far from gone. A generation of children has been affected by this this epidemic, the effects of which are going to be felt for many years to come. Over 20,200 children are now orphans and 9.8 million children are still living in Ebola-affected areas.

These statistics have been shocking but they’re only part of the story. Ebola has taken away people’s lives, their families and friends and has had a deep impact on the societies and economies of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

A young boy washes his hands in disinfecting chlorine solution at his home in Conakry, Guinea. Unicef 2015 Perret

A young boy washes his hands in disinfecting chlorine solution at his home in Conakry, Guinea.

While this latest news from Liberia is extremely encouraging, we cannot afford to be complacent. Despite declining numbers, the recent situation reports continue to warn that the steep decline in the number of cases from December to the end of January has halted. Transmission remains widespread. There are still more than 51 new cases a week in Guinea and 81 new cases in Sierra Leone. Just a single new case is enough to reignite an outbreak.

The situation is still urgent enough for the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to take time to visit the United States to urge the world to maintain its assistance and aid to her country. “We can neither rest, nor lift our foot off the gas,” she said, stating that Ebola must “be chased down in every corner” and eliminated.

Governments, humanitarian organisations and the general public need to continue to be vigilant in order to get the number of cases down to zero.

Unicef and partners are continuing to work in West Africa to boost recovery and strengthen preparedness and prevention against the disease. We are working to make sure the intensity of the response can be sustained. Raising awareness of the disease, maintaining safe burials of highly contagious bodies, and supporting the health services of the countries affected are our top priorities.

The outbreak has not ended in any country until it has ended in every country. The only way to stop Ebola is at its source and to treat every last case. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Nobody can afford to drop their guard. The last mile may well be the hardest. Let us therefore act resolutely and with unity of purpose to end this cruel outbreak and support recovery.”

So while it may not be appearing in the headlines, Ebola is still a top humanitarian priority. We need your help to fight this epidemic and get the number of Ebola cases to zero.

All photos Unicef/2015/Perret

A social mobilizer meets with residents of the Kaloum area of Conakry, Guinea. He shares critical information about Ebola, such as how to protect oneself from the disease and prevent its spread.

A social mobiliser meets with residents of the Kaloum area of Conakry, Guinea. He shares critical information about Ebola, such as how to protect oneself from the disease and prevent its spread.

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