The UN children’s fund warned the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo threatens the health and well-being of children, and special care must be taken to help them survive.
Ebola is highly contagious, killing between 20 and 90 percent of its victims, and the UN children’s fund is engaging communities in the fight against Ebola. UNICEF spokesman, Christophe Boulierac said schools are crucial for minimizing the risk of transmission among children.
“UNICEF is scaling up prevention efforts in schools across all three affected health zones,” he said. “This includes on-going efforts to install hand washing units in 277 schools and supporting awareness raising activities reaching more than 13,000 children in Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko.”
Previous outbreaks of Ebola in DRC and most recently in the horrific epidemic in West Africa have shown the high-level of trauma experienced by children at the loss of family members. Boulierac told VOA orphaned children often become social outcasts because of their association with this fatal disease.
“There is as you mention, rightly, the risk of stigma and the risk that the child when his father, his care-giver, his mother is affected; the child is psychologically affected,” he said.
Boulierac said UNICEF is taking preventive measures, including providing trained therapists to families affected by the Ebola outbreak and helping children cope psychologically with the trauma of losing loved ones.