Don’t criminalise Ebola-affected people – help them, says ActionAid | ActionAid UK

Don’t criminalise Ebola-affected people – help them, says ActionAid

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As the World Health Organization (WHO) calls for drastic action to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the government of Sierra Leone has warned it is a serious crime to shelter infected people in hiding, Mohamed Sillah, ActionAid’s Country Director in Sierra Leone speaks out.

It’s not fair to criminalise Ebola-affected people. Some people are not reporting known cases of Ebola because they are scared. Unfortunately they don’t trust national health systems and much of the information they are receiving is in a language they don’t understand. 

We are working with local organisations and volunteers to translate World Health Organisation and Sierra Leone government recommendations into local languages. We are also working closely with communities to ensure they understand how to protect themselves and the importance of seeking treatment.

An outbreak of this scale is unprecedented in Sierra Leone and everyone must do everything they can to stop it spreading further.”

Notes for editors

  • The Ebola outbreak is believed to have killed 400 people already. ActionAid has started rapid outreach and over the next 45 days will be scaling up its work teaching rural communities how to contain Ebola.
  • ActionAid Sierra Leone is running an urgent awareness raising project in Kono and Bo. Government approved health messages are being disseminated in the form of flyers, radio jingles and door to door visits.
  • ActionAid has been working in Sierra Leone since1988, and now works with over 158,000 people. ActionAid works to provide healthcare, safe childbirth practices and clean water and lobbies governments to change the policies and practices that affect the lives of poor people. We also work with communities to create opportunities for young people to mix and develop business skills for the future.