3 April 2014 - 7.30pm
116 Lavender Street
Pek Chuan Building
3 April 2014 - 7.30pm
116 Lavender Street
Pek Chuan Building
Ebola Virus in Liberia, ELWA Hospital Prepares
By: Robert Bogan, Web Content Manager, SIM USA
“As of today Liberia has 8 suspected cases of Ebola. Over the weekend several of those were confirmed, so we now have the Ebola virus in Liberia.”
-SIM Liberia, March 31, 2014
A deadly virus is sweeping across Guinea and Liberia. What has often been the topic of fictional thrillers is now a very real situation for people living in these two countries. SIM missionaries and our Liberian partners are preparing to respond to the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia.
At this time, there are no cases of Ebola at ELWA Hospital, where SIM and Samaritan’s Purse partner to meet the medical needs of thousands of people in Liberia. However, the potential danger is very real, and the opportunity to respond to need is greater than ever.
“The risk that is being assessed at present is the likelihood of a case turning up at ELWA hospital,” says Helen Heron, the SIM International Personnel Director. “Isolation contingencies are being prepared in the hospital, and contingency plans made to evacuate those families with young children who are living at ELWA.”
The SIM team in Liberia has been vigilant, making and implementing contingency plans as the virus has spread. The outbreak began in Guinea, a country to the northwest of Liberia. More than 80 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in that country already, and as of April 1, some of the 8 suspected cases in Liberia were confirmed.
One such case involved a person who fled northern Liberia to a suburb of Monrovia. They were admitted to a hospital in Firestone, and later moved to their home for isolation. Unfortunately, this person was in contact with a number people before being placed in isolation. The Ministry of Health in Liberia is working to find those contacts now to prevent any further spread.
Dr. Debbie Eisenhut serves at ELWA as a Doctor and Health Coordinator. Today, Debbie needs prayer more than ever as she and Will Elphick, Director of SIM Liberia, work with the ELWA team to manage this difficult situation. Dr. Eisenhut has been training the staff at ELWA Hospital in the correct procedures for dealing with any suspected cases of Ebola that may arrive at the hospital.
“We continue to train people at the hospital. I have now trained 44 people… [We are] working hard to set up an isolation unit in the chapel,” Debbie shared.
Samaritan’s Purse has provided needed equipment and have volunteered to send a pallet of additional equipment, air freighted from their headquarters in North Carolina, USA. We are very grateful for their support.
“At present we don’t have any suspected cases at ELWA Hospital but we are preparing for the possibility,” Will Elphick said, “We are setting up our isolation unit by using the Chapel and converting it so it can take a small number of cases. We are putting in separate sanitation, partitioning for male and female wards, and extra lighting. The ELWA Services Department is doing a great job in making all the changes and alterations to our facilities.”
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Second stage of Haiyan relief about rebuilding
A team of eight SIMers has returned to Western Samar, Philippines to deliver building materials, school supplies, a generator, medical relief and much needed psychological support to survivors of “Super Typhoon” Haiyan in phase 2 of a 3 phase relief project.
Ten days before Christmas, the team - comprising mostly Filipinos - arranged for the delivery of tin roofing, wood trusses, marine plywood, umbrella nails and 200 bags of cement: enough supplies to repair or rebuild 31 houses. The supplies were distributed by the Marabut Christian Community Church to both church members and non-members and the work was carried out exclusively by the families and their neighbours.
“We want them to rebuild their [own] lives” said Andy Tillman, an American member of the team with a long history in the Philippines.
Everyone who received supplies - with the exception of one aged “healer” in Marabut, who tragically died a few hours after the relief arrived - was able to use their repaired or rebuilt house by the end of the week. The church itself, which has been completely destroyed, received a new temporary meeting place to be used by the congregation until the larger building can be rebuilt.
School bags, notebooks, paper and pencils were also given to about 300 school children the day before classes were officially scheduled to resume and a diesel generator was delivered to the Marabut church along with a small starter supply of fuel. The generator will provide members of the community a “charge point” for mobile phones and rechargeable flashlights at a much lower cost than existing for-profit options in the town.
Basic medical care and medicine, such as antibiotics, was provided to the community by the team’s nurse, Roxanne, and a half day training course in trauma counseling was given to about a dozen local women. Several men had also been scheduled to attend the training but were held up by the ongoing reconstruction work in town. It is hoped the women will be able to provide some relief for others in the community suffering from the effects of traumatic memories and grief.
Ghie Sibayan, the relief project’s coordinator, says there are still many immediate needs in the Marabut region, particularly relating to restoration of livelihood for the area’s many fishermen and coconut farmers. There is also a need to reassure survivors that support is still available.
“People [in the disaster zone] are getting a reality check now,” she says. "The honeymoon stage is over. They are thinking, ‘now we are on our own and nobody will help us anymore.’”
Decisions about whether to return to the same region for phase 3 are still ongoing as are discussions with government personnel about official initiatives in the area.
Team of 8 begins SIM Haiyan relief
In areas of the Eastern Visayas, SIM is beginning relief work to specific communities through partnerships with local churches and organizations.
How SIM is helping: The beneficiaries of the relief aid are survivors of the 8 November Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) disaster who lost their loved ones, were displaced, injured or sick, have become homeless or are without possessions.
The typhoon killed at least 3,974 people and a further 1,186 are missing, with about 500,000 people homeless, as of figures released on 19 November.
SIM workers plan to help 1000 families or about 3000 individuals (adults and children).
Timeline of support: SIM’s support will continue for six months to one year.
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SIM launches Haiyan disaster relief
As you have heard from media reports, some areas of the Philippines have experienced utter devastation from Typhoon Haiyan. SIM personnel are launching a response to this disaster by providing care for victims.
Right now, SIM is working with other agencies in the location to provide a coordinated response which will likely include provision of food, clean water, shelter, clothing, counselling, medical services, rescue and transport. More information on SIM’s specific role in the relief effort will be posted in the coming days.
Please pray for the people of the Philippines and for the SIM workers there demonstrating the love of Christ at this difficult time.