With the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as the world’s deadliest to date, local health agencies and international health organizations continue to work tirelessly to stop the spread of Ebola. Researchers from the New England Journal of Medicine have traced the outbreak to a two-year-old toddler, who died in December 2013 in Meliandou, a small village in southeastern Guinea.
Ebola causes fever, diarrhea and vomiting. It also has a high death rate. During this outbreak alone, out of the first 86 cases, 59 people died. Ebola has affected more than 22,092 and killed more than 8,810 in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea since December 2013. About one-fifth of the virus’ victims have been children.
Health experts are still looking at Nigeria as an example, which after a death total of 8 people, in October 2014 was declared Ebola free, and almost four months after, has managed to keep the virus out of its borders.
Where the worst cases have been reported for example in parts of Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Ebola virus has managed to wipe out entire families. According to aid workers, the growing concern within the regions where some family members have managed to survive is the ever-growing number of orphans. In normal circumstances outside the context of Ebola, extended families would take in orphaned children without hesitation but out of fear of Ebola, some are now hesitating to do so.
The outbreak has left more than 500 children parentless and thousands of other children haunted by the losses they suffered and endured and the human misery they witnessed. According to Elizabeth Drevlow, a child protection officer with the nonprofit service organization GOAL, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, because of the little government structure that is left in places like Sierra Leone, case workers have to extremely careful when tracking down the facts about a child’s relatives as to avoid imposters out to claim orphaned boys and girls so they can exploit them.
With organizations like GOAL working diligently to make sure that orphaned children are placed in the right homes, there is hope which will of course can be elevated with strengthened and well functioning government infrastructures that are able to provide some financial support to the families opening their homes for these orphans. Soon, what the world wants to see is the virus completely eradicated with these children returning to their normal lives and to school as much as possible.