Greenville-based American Leprosy Missions has partnered with MAP International to send much needed medical supplies to health care workers battling the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia.
ALM and MAP, a Christian health organization that fights poverty around the world, will send almost 6,000 personal protective suits, which health care workers need to keep from catching the highly contagious virus, as well as $1.5million worth of other medicines and supplies.
The World Health Organization reported this week that there have been 1,711 cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the worst outbreak of the disease in history. Some 932 people have died.
WHO declared the situation a “public health emergency of international concern” and said the health systems in affected countries don’t have enough human, financial and material resources, including personal protective equipment, to mount an adequate response.
“Health workers struggling to contain the epidemic are risking their lives to help the sick,” ALM said. “One of the most critical needs is protective suits to keep them safe.”
ALM, which began its work in Liberia in 1978 and last year along with MAP sent more than $3.6million worth of supplies to Africa and Asia, said the outbreak is preventing it from helping people and that many hospitals have closed or are only caring for patients with Ebola.
“The Ebola virus is threatening the lives of thousands of people in Liberia,” said Jim Oehrig, the group’s chief program officer.
“American Leprosy Missions has worked there for many years and this epidemic is making it extremely difficult for our partners on the ground to serve some of the poorest and most marginalized people, those affected by leprosy, Buruli ulcer and other neglected tropical diseases,” he added. “So it’s important for us to be at the forefront of the international response to this public health emergency.”
MAP, which provides medicines and promotes health through partnerships in more than 100 countries, will ship the equipment by air Monday from its distribution center in Brunswick, Ga.
Two infected American missionaries with North Carolina-based SIM and Samaritan’s Purse who were evacuated from Liberia in the past week, meanwhile, continue to be treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The hospital has the staff, equipment and special isolation facilities to care for patients with a disease like Ebola, which can kill up to 90 percent of its victims.
Ebola is transmitted to people from wild animals, such as fruit bats, and is highly contagious in humans through direct contact with the body fluids of victims, according to WHO. There is no vaccine or cure.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola isn’t contagious until symptoms appear and poses little risk to the general U.S. population.