CBM UK, the overseas disability charity has launched an emergency Ebola campaign to protect people with disabilities and their families in SierraLeone. 

Over 4000 people have died as a result of the deadly virus and the scale of the crisis in West Africa continues toescalate. People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable to the disease, as they are often excluded from public information campaigns.

Kirsty Smith, National Director for CBM UK said: “Education is essential to protect people from Ebola but people with disabilities are missing out on vital information that could save their lives because they may not be able to see, hear or understand it. This also cuts them off from life-saving support such as distribution of food and hygiene kits”.

In Sierra Leone, the Government has identified public awareness as the top priority to protect individuals and control the outbreak. But despite the broad range of education activities, none have been developed to include people with disabilities.

According to the Disability Commission of Sierra Leone, the scope of people with disabilities being reached with information is very limited, specifically those with visual and/or hearing impairments.It is estimated that over half a million people in Sierra Leone live with some form of disability. It is vital that important health messages reach entire communities using practices of inclusion; otherwise the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone and other areas of West Africa will not be controlled.

CBM will work with West African Medical Missions (WAMM) in Sierra Leone to urgently develop and distribute disability-inclusive health information such as audio and video materials. The materials are being developed in consultation with local disabled people’s groups in five local languages.The charity aimsto reach more than 140,000 people with disabilities and their family members in the most affected regions.

To ensure that these efforts are directed at areas of greatest need and co-ordinated with other organisations’ activities, WAMM will attend Ministry of Health Social Mobilization Pillar meetings and maintain ongoing communication with the Sierra Leone Government.

To support the CBM Ebola Emergency Appeal visit www.cbmuk.org.uk.