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Sierra Leone has been under siege from the EVD epidemic for more than a year. According to World Health Organisation, this outbreak has been classified as the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976, with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as the most severely affected countries in the West Africa region.
The outbreak in Sierra Leone started in May 2014, and as at 4th November 2015, according to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the country recorded a cumulative (laboratory confirmed) infected cases of 8,704, confirmed deaths of 3,589 (of which 221 are healthcare workers),and 4,051 survivors.
According to the WHO, a country will be declared Ebola-free 42 days after the last confirmed case has tested negative or has deceased. Sierra Leone started its new countdown on Saturday 26th September, after discharging its last two known patients from the Treatment Center in Kambia District. The country is to complete its 42 days of ‘0 cases’ period by midnight Friday, 6th November 2015. All actors in the country and across the world are anticipating that on Saturday, 7th November 2015, Sierra Leone will be declared free of Ebola, which will also initiate a 90-day period of heightened vigilance to prevent reoccurrence of the infection in the country.
ACF has been in Sierra Leone since 1991 supporting the national authorities in the fight against hunger in the Moyamba, Kambia and western rural and urban districts (which happened to be high transmission areas during the outbreak), through its nutrition, health, food security and livelihoods, water sanitation and hygiene programmes of intervention. ACF has been involved in robust social mobilization by training and giving support to case investigators and contact tracers; has been providing water, sanitation and hygiene structures for quarantined homes, communities and health facilities; has been, providing trainings for healthcare workers on infection prevention and control; has been giving nutrition, psychosocial and livelihood support to survivors and has also been distributing reunification kits to survivors and people loosing family member(s) to Ebola. ACF has been actively involved in promoting good hygiene practices (especially hand washing) in communities as major tools in the fight to tackle the disease in the country.
As we approach this historic day , ACF Sierra Leone is calling on all to be vigilant, not be complacent and still maintain a system of heightened surveillance and good hygiene practices as we get to and stay a resilient zero.