Aid workers from Finland to fight Ebola at isolation clinic

Katherine Mueller / IFRC
Red Cross aid workers tell people in cities and towns, villages and rural areas in Sierra Leone how to protect themselves against Ebola and what symptoms of the virus to look out for.
Image: Katherine Mueller / IFRC

The International Red Cross is in the process of setting up an isolation clinic to fight the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. The Finnish Red Cross is currently recruiting aid workers to work at the clinic.

This is the first time the Finnish Red Cross will be helping with the clinical treatment of Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. Two FRC aid workers are already in the country helping, among other things, to inform the local population how to protect themselves against the virus.

In cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the healthcare authorities in Sierra Leone, the Red Cross is setting up a clinical treatment centre to be located in Kenema, capital of Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province. The clinic will be staffed by aid workers from, among other countries, Norway, Great Britain and Spain.

The Spanish Red Cross Society is providing supplies for the clinic, which is set to open next week. At present, the local hospital in Kenema does not have enough staff nor suitable isolation rooms for treating patients, which increases the risk of the virus spreading.

According to the healthcare ministries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, some 1,440 people have been infected with the Ebola virus. Approximately 820 of them have died of the disease.

The International Red Cross advises local inhabitants how to protect themselves from the virus. In addition, the Red Cross is providing psychosocial support to people who have been exposed to the virus and to those who have been taken ill or whose relatives are suffering from or have died from it. In Sierra Leone the Red Cross cooperates with the local, traditional healers, as they can spread information about the virus and inform people in remote areas how to protect themselves.

‘Having people accept and understand information about Ebola is key to stopping this outbreak. We cannot do it on our own, which is why it is critical to engage with community leaders, be they traditional healers or religious leaders,’ says Raul Paredes , deputy head of Ebola operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Sierra Leone.