Ebola risk remains high in West Africa, warns UNICEF

(AGI) Rome, Nov 21 - With new Ebola cases in Mali and acontinuing spread of the disease in Sierra Leone, the UnitedNations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is stepping up its efforts tohelp other West African countries at risk prepare for potentialoutbreaks. "The new cases in Mali remind us that no country inthe region is immune to Ebola," said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEFRegional Director for West and Central Africa. "We cannot waitfor new cases in countries at risk before we take action. Wemust help communities today prepare for cases if they happen,when they happen,

(AGI) Rome, Nov 21 - With new Ebola cases in Mali and acontinuing spread of the disease in Sierra Leone, the UnitedNations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is stepping up its efforts tohelp other West African countries at risk prepare for potentialoutbreaks. "The new cases in Mali remind us that no country inthe region is immune to Ebola," said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEFRegional Director for West and Central Africa. "We cannot waitfor new cases in countries at risk before we take action. Wemust help communities today prepare for cases if they happen,when they happen, wherever they happen." In recent months,UNICEF has worked with countries in the region to review theirprevention and preparedness plans, the organisation said in astatement. In the 13 countries most at risk, focus has been ondispelling rumours, sharing life-saving information andproviding supplies such as mattresses, soap, hydro-alcoholicgel, bleach, buckets, laser thermometers, gloves, diarrhoealdisease packages, syringes, tarpaulins and tents. In Mali, anEbola treatment centre is already operational in the capitalBamako, while other health facilities, especially in the borderareas, have been equipped with additional water, sanitation andhygiene services. In Bamako, 77 bus stations have been equippedwith hand-washing materials. In Ivory Coast, which sharesborders with Guinea, Liberia and Mali, mass public informationcampaigns are under way while community-based social workers godoor-to-door to promote healthy behaviour. UNICEF is workingwith community and religious leaders and organising informationsessions on good hygiene practices in over 1,000 schools in theborder regions. In Guinea Bissau, an estimated 10,000 communityhealth workers, teachers and opinion leaders will receiveEbola-related information and training. In Benin, 50 localradio stations are airing Ebola education messages in all eightmain languages and a community engagement campaign is rollingout through a network of more than 2,000 health promoters. The13 countries most at risk of contracting Ebola are: Benin,Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast,Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria,Senegal and Togo. . .