25 March 2014: Fear and confusion have gripped communities in Forest Guinea area of the Republic of Guinea where highest number of deaths due to Ebola epidemic have occurred, says humanitarian organisation Plan International.
The organisation, which has 4 programme areas in Forest Guinea covering a large population, is receiving reports from the field staff that people are extremely worried even as they carry out their daily activities.
“On Monday, 2 more deaths were reported in our area. People are really frightened. They have seen people die in a matter of just 2 or 3 days. They are constantly worried who is going to be the next fatality,” said Joseph Gbaka Sandounou, Plan’s Programme Unit Manager in Guéckédou, Forest Guinea.
This is the first time that virus has surfaced in Forest Guinea area that borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, and local communities have witnessed frightening scenarios where people have died with signs involving severe bleeding.
“People have never experienced anything like this before. Rumours are rife among communities who are trying to come up with their own explanations,” said Sandounou.
“It is not just people but also the health workers who are extremely worried. When the epidemic broke out a number of health workers had no clue what they were handling nor did they have the protective gear. As a result, a number of Ebola victims have been health workers. We heard reports that health workers turned patients away due to fear in some cases before the health administration swung into action,” he added.
No treatment available
The Ebola fever is among the most virulent diseases known to humankind. There is no treatment or vaccine available.
Ibrahima Toure, Plan’s Country Director in Guinea said: “Prevention is the only way to contain the Ebola epidemic. It is an urgent priority that correct information is available and accessible to communities to prevent infection and death.”
Plan is providing support to local authorities in responding to the epidemic, particularly in the area of logistics and public health information. The organisation will be using radio, mobile SMS and TV to relay information to communities on all preventive measures they can take to stay safe. Schools and children will be particularly targeted.
The organisation has already warned that Ebola virus may become a regional health crisis endangering a vast population across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone given the geographical location of the outbreak. A few cases of suspected Ebola deaths have already been reported in Liberia.
Plan is calling for a coordinated emergency response involving Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to contain the deadly virus.
(Plan experts in Conakry and staff on the ground are available for media interviews.)
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world’s oldest and largest children's development organisations. Plan works in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.
Plan has been working in Guinea since 1989, helping poor children to access their rights to education, health, sanitation and protection. The organisation has 34,000 sponsored children spread over 65 communities across the country.
Currently, Plan Guinea has 4 Programme Units in Forest Guinea covering the prefectures of Kissidougou, Guéckédou, Macenta, N’Zérékoré and the Littoral Programme Unit covering Coyah, Dubréka, Forécariah and Conakry. Plan is also implementing development projects in Télimele and Faranah Region.