UNICEF seeks 4.3 million U.S. dollars for Ebola prevention in South Sudan

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Monday it requires 4.3 million U.S. dollars to fund Ebola virus disease (EVD) prevention and preparedness activities in South Sudan by the end of September.

The UN agency, which said it is ramping up Ebola prevention efforts due to South Sudan being assessed as a "high-risk" country, said only 14 percent has been funded to date.

Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said in a statement that the UN agency is working with the government, other UN agencies and partners to disseminate prevention messages and help communities protect themselves from the disease.

Since January, UNICEF and its partners have engaged more than three million people in South Sudan with Ebola prevention messages.

This week marked one year since the start of the ongoing EVD outbreak in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that has already killed more than 1,700 people, said UNICEF.

According to the UN agency, the DRC is in the grip of the second worst Ebola outbreak in history, noting that there is an increasingly significant risk of Ebola spreading across porous borders into South Sudan.

"The active involvement of communities is key to avoid infections. We are working closely with them to create awareness and understanding of transmission routes, and promoting hand-washing and good hygiene practices, which are the most effective prevention measures," Ayoya said.

The UN children's agency and its partners have trained 450 front-line mobilizers who are knocking on doors, organizing community meetings and engaging religious and local leaders to disseminate life-saving messages.

Ayoya said the early detection and containment of the three Ebola cases in Uganda in June came as a result of increased public awareness.

"Our teams and partners on the ground working in the communities confirm that an increasing number of people are now aware of Ebola, and the protection measures they can take to avoid infection," he said.

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency