2014-10-17 11:47:00

Ebola and the plight of children in West Africa

(Vatican Radio) As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to claim lives, aid agencies are focusing their attention on the many children who have been affected by the virus.

In countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia which have been worst hit, many children have been orphaned and run the risk of being ostracized from their communities.

Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Save the Children’s Robbie McIntyre

Meanwhile, in some cases children who have contracted or who have been in contact people Ebola victims are being shunned by the community. One of the aid agencies working to counteract this is Save the Children which has scaled up its efforts to fight the epidemic.

“What we have been scaling up in the last month is we’ve built an Ebola treatment unit which is now being run by the international medical corps, they’ve already had eleven patients who have come in with Ebola who have manage to overcome the virus, says Robbie McIntyre who is part of the agency’s Humanitarian Response Team on the ground in Liberia

He points out that children who have lost parents are having to be quarantined because they have been in contact with an Ebola sufferer. The quarantine period lasts 21 days and Save the Children is providing them with a survival kits which includes food and hygiene utensils.

Talking about the stigma attached to children who have been in contact with Ebola victims, Robbie McIntyre says, “in some cases it’s hard to place children who have been considered contacts with family or with loved ones, in those cases we are working with local authorities to make sure children do have a safe place to stay…”

However, despite the scale of the outbreak, Mr McIntyre says efforts to educate people on the seriousness of the virus are getting through.

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