Solidarity across Borders: Making Sense of the Ebola Crisis
By: Tooni Akanni & Caroline Kiarie
Urgent Action Fund-Africa is deeply concerned by the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa and is committed to working closely with other women’s rights organizations and activists in the region contributing towards elevating women’s voices, enhancing women’s leadership and visibility, supporting women’s initiatives to contain the disease and avoid being infected-all this as they struggle to rebuild their lives and communities.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak continues to evolve in alarming ways, with the severely affected countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, battling to control the escalating outbreak against a backdrop of severely compromised health systems, significant deficits in capacity, and rampant, unadulterated fear. Through an urgent and strategic deployment of a Ugandan feminist Medical Doctor and Psychiatrist well versed in the medial and social realities of women in Liberia, UAF-Africa conducted a rapid assessment to investigate the impact of the Ebola epidemic on women and girls. Based on our assessment findings , the outbreak is skewed towards women because of the predominance of female caretakers.
Reports have shown that women are on the front lines of this disease, with female clinic and hospital nurses and cleaners representing the majority of the medical personnel who have died from the virus. According to UNICEF, women account for 55 to 60 per cent of the over 1,500 deaths from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since May. But figures may actually be even higher. Health teams on the ground in Liberia have reported much higher numbers with women making up 75 per cent of the people who have been infected. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the outbreak may ultimately infect as many as 20,000 people before the outbreak ends, and a disproportionate number of those cases will be women. Read the full article.