SEATTLE, Nov. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Philanthropist Paul G. Allen today announced a multi-million dollar grant aimed at addressing one of the most tragic outcomes of the Ebola crisis in Liberia: the care of children orphaned by the virus. According to UNICEF, at least 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have lost one of their parents to Ebola so far this year. The challenges facing these orphans will impact their young lives for decades.
Mr. Allen is committing $6.6 million to support Save the Children's efforts to provide health care, comfort and education to Liberia's children. The funding also covers community awareness programs aimed at preventing further spread of the virus. The grant is part of Paul G. Allen's commitment to funding at least $100 million in programs to tackle the Ebola crisis. Mr. Allen's grant is the largest private donation Save the Children has received for its Ebola response to date.
To view video and photos from Save the Children's work in West Africa please visit: http://www.tackleebola.com/toolkit-save-the-children.html.
Children are experiencing family member losses and separation at an alarming rate as their parents are admitted for treatment. Many are confined to their homes; yet others, while having survived the virus, are left without possessions or shelter. These young victims of the Ebola crisis often end up alone and ostracized by their communities who remain fearful of infection.
Save the Children has had a strong program presence in West Africa for more than 20 years. They quickly began mobilizing a response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia to reach children and adults. Mr. Allen's grant will advance the following actions in Liberia:
- The protection of vulnerable children affected by Ebola: Mr. Allen's support will help protect Ebola impacted children from abuse, exploitation, violence and neglect. Psychological and psychosocial treatment will be offered, and family tracing and reunification services will be provided for those orphaned. There will also be follow up on the placement of children to ensure their well-being.
- The implementation of emergency education programs: According to UNICEF, Ebola-related school closures in Liberia have left nearly one million school-aged children without a structured learning program. Save the Children will initiate emergency education programs and adapt their proven literacy and numeracy education packages to help communities support children's learning. These programs will continue after schools reopen, ensuring a longer-lasting impact.
In addition, radio-based education programming will enable students to learn while schools remain closed. Home-learning programming will provide psychological support and hygiene messaging to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Support Ebola Community Care Centers: Save the Children is constructing and operating Ebola Community Care Centers to provide "close to the community" care. They will convert existing spaces in affected communities to facilities to be used to isolate and observe and provide services for suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola cases. The centers are expected to reduce the burden on Ebola treatment units by providing essential help in the form of equipment and supplies, and to construct, manage and operate additional centers. The first center will open this week in Liberia with a total of ten opening in the next two months.
- Increased community awareness activities: Effective communication is crucial to stopping the spread of Ebola. Mr. Allen's donation will fund an increase in community awareness and sensitization activities across Liberia. This will entail media engagement for people near Ebola Treatment Units and Ebola Care Centers. Additionally, Save the Children is working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in Liberia to ensure Ebola prevention materials are available in the schools that remain open.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Liberia has been the country most affected by the current Ebola outbreak. WHO reports that as of November 5, 2014, Liberia has recorded 6,525 confirmed, probable, or suspected Ebola cases and 2,697 deaths from the virus.
"The long term impact of Ebola will be severe unless we take the right steps," said Mr. Allen. "We must focus on solutions that will build permanent infrastructure to provide lasting support for the people of West Africa. Children are the most vulnerable of this population and the work Save the Children is doing will provide critical care and education essential to ensuring a healthy future for these young victims of the crisis."
"During my recent trip to Liberia, I saw firsthand the impact the deadly Ebola virus is having on children, families and communities," said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children. "The daily increase in the number of orphans is particularly alarming. The support we receive from Mr. Allen will enable Save the Children to give more patients the immediate care they so desperately need, and can help to prevent the tragic loss so many families are experiencing."
Mr. Allen's Contributions to Date:
From the early days of the outbreak, Mr. Allen and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation have focused on finding, funding and coordinating strategic solutions that address the most critical needs of those affected. Mr. Allen has also created TackleEbola.com to provide an easy way for individuals to contribute to specific organizations and fund critical response needs.
For more information and a complete list of Mr. Allen's contributions, visit www.tackleebola.com and follow @TackleEbola and @PaulGAllen on Twitter or Facebook.
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