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People vs. Ebola - Additional Resources

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    We know that volunteering in these challenging circumstances takes courage. Here is more information. Please read through the questions below.

    What you need to know before applying

    1. What difference will it really make if I volunteer?

    Because there are now such a small number of trained emergency workers in the region as part of the Ebola response, every additional volunteer can help. Donors and governments are providing funds, but there just aren’t enough qualified staff on the ground yet to stem the epidemic. The logic of epidemics is clear - well-placed interventions at this stage can have outsized impacts on an epidemic’s future growth. Governments in the region, the UN, and humanitarian organisations are all crying out for volunteers - for doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other non-medical personnel to fill the gaps. So every volunteer that is chosen by a frontline organisation will have a real impact.

    2. Can Ebola be prevented? Is there a vaccine?

    The Ebola virus is a severe, contagious and often deadly virus, which is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids of infected people, even after death. There is currently no vaccine or cure. However, specific protocols can reduce or stop the spread of the virus - and protect health workers. For more information on transmission, symptoms, diagnosis and prevention you can refer to the World Health Organisation website. For more information on experimental treatments and vaccines being developed refer here.

    3. What kind of special protective equipment and other healthcare precautions are recommended?

    Frontline humanitarian organisations are following international World Health Organisation standards for personal protective equipment (PPE). You can refer here for what that includes. In addition to standard health-care precautions, health-care workers should strictly adhere to recommended infection control measures to avoid exposure to infected blood, fluids, or contaminated environments or objects – such as a patient’s soiled linen or used needles. Volunteers will be working with specialist medical and humanitarian organisations on the ground, which have committed to provide the necessary medical and safety equipment.

    4. Do I need to have any special vaccinations before traveling to West Africa?

    Absolutely. There are some vaccinations required to travel to West Africa. We strongly recommend that volunteers take a look at the links provided on the World Health Organization website and find recommendations from your individual country websites not listed there. All selected volunteers should consult with their doctor about getting Typhoid and Yellow Fever vaccinations as well as malaria prophylaxis.

    5. Will I receive a salary?

    Volunteers will normally have all their expenses covered by a frontline organisation and some will also receive a salary for the placement from the organisation. Some employers will also sponsor you for periods of humanitarian work abroad. But some volunteers will not be paid. If you are eager to volunteer but are unable to do so without a salary, please indicate that on the intake form.

    6. Where will I live? What will it be like?

    Volunteers chosen by the frontline organisations will be deployed to different locations, including urban and rural areas of West Africa. Living conditions will very much depend on where you are assigned. The frontline humanitarian organisations have committed to taking care of housing. You will likely live in designated houses and have to adhere to clear rules during non-work hours as well so as to ensure your health is protected at all times. Access to telephones and internet will vary with placement.

    7. Which organisations might I be volunteering with?

    Avaaz is helping to connect members with the skills needed to tackle the Ebola emergency to volunteer programmes at world-renowned humanitarian and emergency relief organisations such as Save the Children, Partners In Health, and International Medical Corps. Avaaz will not itself manage or control any frontline response to the Ebola epidemic.

    8. What if I get infected while volunteering?

    The safety of volunteers is of the utmost importance to the humanitarian organisations and they have committed to having the most robust procedures in place to treat anyone who might get infected. Once you are matched with an organisation, they will provide you a full briefing on personal safety and procedures in case of infection.

    For additional information, contact us at [email protected]. Avaaz staff will consult with the frontline organisations and respond to questions as soon as we can.

    More sources:

    Ebola FAQs (World Health Organization)

    Travel illness and vaccination - Africa (National Health Service)

    International travel and health: Country list (World Health Organization)

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (World Health Organization)

    Ebola: Information for humanitarian aid workers (UK government)

    Infection prevention and control guidance for care of patients in health-care settings, with focus on Ebola (World Health Organisation)

    If you still have questions you need answered, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] Avaaz staff will consult with the frontline organisations and respond to questions as soon as we can.

    Choose to Volunteer

    This is the moment when you choose whether to raise your hand, and embark on this journey. You can still withdraw after this, and you may not be selected by an organisation, but signing this form tells Avaaz, our community, and frontline groups on the ground that you’re willing to do this, if you’re the best person for the job. Tremendous respect to you for even thinking about it. You will no doubt make the right decision.

    If you choose to volunteer, use the button below to proceed to the intake form. First, we ask that you leave a message for our community about why you are choosing to put yourself forward. Your words have the power to inspire others to find the courage to take this step.