By Abiodun Alade, @biodunpen
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has disclosed that the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, has orphaned at least three thousand and seven hundred children, majorly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
According to preliminary reports, UNICEF estimated that at least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have lost one or both parents to Ebola since the start of the outbreak in West Africa, according to preliminary UNICEF estimates, and many are being rejected by their surviving relatives for fear of infection.
“Thousands of children are living through the deaths of their mother, father or family members from Ebola,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West & Central Africa, after a two-week visit to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “These children urgently need special attention and support; yet many of them feel unwanted and even abandoned. Orphans are usually taken in by a member of the extended family, but in some communities, the fear surrounding Ebola is becoming stronger than family ties.”
As the death toll from Ebola continues to rise, preliminary reports from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone suggest that the number of children orphaned by Ebola has spiked in the past few weeks and is likely to double in the coming days.
“There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread by contact with the bodily fluids of infected people or animals. Therefore prevention is one of the best ways to contain the virus. Access to timely and accurate life-saving information is hence absolutely crucial. This is where UNICEF is focusing its efforts moving forward,” said UNICEF Representative in Guinea, Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoy. There is no known cure or preventive vaccine, but early diagnosis and medical attention can increase the chances of survival.
As of 27 October 2014, the total reported number of confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in the West African epidemic of Ebola virus disease is 13,703 with 4920 deaths.
Countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) country reports fall into three categories: 1) those with widespread and intense transmission (Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone); 2) those with an initial case or cases, or with localized transmission (Nigeria, Senegal, Spain, and the United States of America); and 3) those countries that neighbour areas of active transmission (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal). The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also has a separate, unrelated outbreak of Ebola.