Red Cross Ups Its Response to Ebola Crisis in West Africa, Death Toll Continues To Rise

Pam WrightLife

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The Red Cross says it plans to train more than 2,000 extra volunteers in an effort to combat the deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

"With dozens of new cases emerging daily, this outbreak is showing no signs of slowing down," said Alasan Senghore, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Africa unit, in a statement on Thursday.

"People are dying. If we are serious about stopping Ebola, we cannot afford to delay ramping up our response," he said.

Since the outbreak began in March, IFRC said it has already trained approximately 3,500 volunteers in the three hardest-hit countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. With the additional trainees, the IFRC hopes to bring that number to over 5,600 volunteers.

A reported 2,296 deaths attributed to Ebola have been reported in those three countries, according to the World Health Organization.

"Engaging communities through our trained volunteers will have an immediate and large pay-off, as messages of prevention will be shared by community members themselves," Senghore said.

IFRC said it was significantly revising its fundraising goals to $32.3 million, an increase of more than $25 million, in oder to address the devastation in west Africa.

With increased funding, the organization plans to reach 21.9 million people — more than double the number it had originally targeted — by expanding its operations into new districts and countries.

Much of the funding will be used for increased communication and awareness-raising in affected communities. It would also help pay for a new 60-bed Ebola treatment center in Sierra Leone.

In addition to the three hardest-hit countries, IFRC said it has also launched an emergency appeal for $1.6 million to fund operations in Nigeria, where eight people have died from Ebola.

It has also upped its response in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 35 people have died from a different strain of Ebola.

Pam Wright