Dubai-based foundation injects $150,000 into new Ebola Crisis Fund

Fund aims to support community-based organisations in West Africa train and equip health workers and raise awareness of the Ebola virus

The Dubai-based Legatum Foundation has donated $150,000 to kick-start an Ebola Crisis Fund to help stem the spread of the deadly disease sweeping West Africa, by boosting local organisations raising awareness of transmission and infection.

The Ebola Crisis Fund aims to raise $1m in three months for community-based organisations to train and equip health workers and raise awareness of the Ebola virus and how it is spread. The fund will fast-track much needed resources to local groups, health clinics and health advocacy networks in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Guinea.

“An early response will not only save lives today, but by cutting off the spread of the disease we can save many thousands more tomorrow,” said Alan McCormick, Legatum’s managing director. “Just a modest amount of funding can reduce this threat significantly by providing hygiene equipment and communications materials to increase awareness about the disease.”

A highly contagious blood fever, Ebola virus disease (EVD) has claimed more than 1,900 lives, according to estimates at the beginning of September by the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO). More than 3,600 cases have been reported across Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal.

The scale and speed of this outbreak – which started in March this year in Guinea – has overwhelmed national health systems. Many victims come from poor, rural areas with little access to health clinics to diagnose, isolate or treat the disease.

As EVD is passed from human to human by touch, it is possible to slow Ebola’s transmission through improved health and hygiene practices, according to the Ebola Crisis Fund.

“The Ebola Crisis Fund will meet an urgent and long term need for community health education and awareness raising especially in many remote areas,” said Andrew Doust, Legatum’s vice president of strategy. “Improving health and hygiene practices generally will improve the resilience of communities to combat future outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases.”

Money from the Ebola Crisis Fund will be disbursed as it is received, with the first payments anticipated for the second week of September.

Last week, the WHO announced it could stop the Ebola outbreak in 6 to 9 weeks but only if a “massive” global response was forthcoming. The UN agency’s director-general called the outbreak “the largest, most complex and most severe we’ve ever seen”.

The WHO estimates a global response to the disease will cost $600m.