A virulent outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is ravaging the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. As of September 3, the disease has infected more than 3,500 people and left more than 1,900 dead across the region. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of fatalities has surpassed the numbers of deaths from all previous Ebola outbreaks combined. The statistics include 240 infected health workers, 120 of whom have died.
Past Ebola outbreaks have been restricted to small rural villages where it could be contained, but the current outbreak has occurred in urban centers in an unprecedented way and crossed national borders. This has led the WHO to predict that many thousands more may become infected before the epidemic is brought under control.
“Our country is experiencing dark times,” reports Lutheran Hour Ministries—Liberia Director Alphonsus Claimett about the impact that the epidemic has had in the region. “This is not a good time to get ill. Health centers are actually shutting their doors to sick people.” Alphonsus relates that a number of local and national church activities have been postponed out of fear that Ebola might spread to participants.
LHM—Liberia has joined the campaign to create awareness and educate people in a variety of ways. The center has:
- Mobilized groups of young volunteers to canvass communities, providing public service announcements that explain the biology of the virus and demonstrate how to wash hands, avoid contamination, etc.
- Provided information about the symptoms people should watch for—a critical message, since Ebola’s initial symptoms are very similar to those of malaria.
- Featured U.N. doctors on its weekly radio program on the Liberia Broadcasting Corporation; these experts have helped teach how to fight and eradicate the disease.
Efforts like this help show love, care and compassion to the local population. They also open a door for our ministry center volunteers to go on to proclaim that our God is a refuge and fortress in troubled times.
Lutheran Hour Ministries invites supporters to join us in the effort to stem the spread of Ebola in West Africa and share Christ’s love with the men, women, and children affected by this epidemic. Please also pray for health workers and Ebola survivors.
To learn about the outreach work of Lutheran Hour Ministries—Liberia, visit lhmliberia.wordpress.com.