SLRCS deeply saddened by loss of Red Cross staff member to Ebola
Freetown, 14 December 2015:
The Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS) is deeply saddened by the death of a staff member to the Ebola virus disease.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of this brave staff member during this particularly difficult time. We are extremely grateful for his work and dedication to the Red Cross, and to the fight against this deadly disease,” said Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General, IFRC.
The staff member was a nurse working at the IFRC Ebola treatment centre in Kenema. He passed away on 13 January 2015 and was confirmed positive for Ebola virus disease later that day. An investigation to determine how the staff member became infected is under way.
144 national staff and 19 international staff work at the IFRC treatment centre in Kenema. Since it opened in September, they have cared for more than 500 patients. This is the first death of a Red Cross volunteer or staff member since response operations were launched in April 2014.
There is no such thing as zero risk when fighting an infectious disease such as Ebola. The Red Cross follows very strict protocols for staff and volunteers, and takes their health and safety extremely seriously. Volunteers and staff are deployed only after they have been fully trained and have the proper personal protective equipment, which includes protective suits, gloves, masks and goggles.
“The death of a Red Cross staff member underscores how those who respond to the Ebola outbreak are on the front lines of this crisis – risking their health and, in some cases, their life, to assist those who are affected by the disease,” said Mr Sy.
With close to 8,000 confirmed cases of Ebola and nearly 3,000 deaths from the virus, Sierra Leone is the country worst affected by the outbreak which has been ravaging West Africa for nearly one year. More than 2,200 volunteers from the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society are currently working across the country to control Ebola, raising awareness in communities, tracing contacts, and providing almost 5,000 burials, including non-Ebola related deaths.
“Although we have seen some encouraging signs, with cases stabilizing across the country over the past few weeks, Ebola is still very real and it is still here,” said Moulaye Camara, IFRC head of delegation in Sierra Leone. “It is critical we remain vigilant in the battle against this disease, until we are down to zero cases.”
‘‘Our collective hearts as coworkers are heavy with sympathy for the loss of our colleague who was an outstanding life saver. We can never afford to lose a single member of our team, especially those of you at the fore front of the fight against the Ebola virus disease. All of our colleagues at the heart of the Emergency Response Operations are deeply loved and are the nucleus of what we are,’’ said Constant Kargbo, SLRCS Secretary General.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
For further information, please contact:
Moulaye Camara, head of delegation, IFRC
Mobile: +232 (0)79 23 67 95 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Constant Kargbo, Secretary General, SLRCS. Mobile: +232 79 517 519Email: email@example.com
Anna MacSwan, communications delegate, IFRC
Mobile: +232 078 859 945 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Katherine Mueller, communications manager, IFRC Africa
Mobile : +254 731 688 613 or +251 930 03 3413 E-mail : email@example.com
Benoit Carpentier, team leader, public communications, IFRC
Mobile : +41 79 213 24 13 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org