Calgary group gets millions to fight Ebola (December 1, 2014)

Written by Jenna McMurray

Published by Calgary Sun on Monday, December 1, 2014

Efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa have been given a big boost by the Canadian government.

The feds have given $2.6 million to Calgary-based Samaritan’s Purse to continue work fighting the deadly disease in Liberia.

The money covers half of what the Christian relief and development organization estimates it will need over the next year to try and help stop the spread of Ebola in Liberia.

Dr. Azaria Marthyman is a Victoria-B.C. physician that works as a volunteer doctor with Samaritan’s Purse and recently returned from his second tour in Liberia this year.

On Monday he spoke about some of the challenges faced in fighting Ebola there, including lack of trust toward agencies and government officials, cultural barriers in dealing with illness and death and language obstacles, as there are many different dialects.

“Unfortunately during an Ebola outbreak, that is not conducive to prevention of transmission, so there is a real sense of hopelessness in the communities that have accepted that Ebola exists,” he said.

However, Marthyman is encouraged by a shift toward acceptance of the disease’s existence, as early on it was tough to convince people to protect themselves from an outbreak they didn’t think was real.

The federal government’s investment will allow Samaritan’s Purse to keep 500 Liberia-based staff, including several Canadians, who are focused on Ebola.

Most of the workers are locals, which is helping break down the barriers, said Marthyman.

The money will expand the public education campaign, helping reach some 35,000 households that have not been infected by Ebola as well as provide prevention and control kits including hygiene items to help protect the people there.

It will also enable Samaritan’s Purse to provide training and equipment to at least 500 households where people have been infected so their family members can care for them at home.

Visit Samaritan's Purse website here.

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