A shortage of engineers and logisticians is undermining the international response to Ebola in West Africa as humanitarian organisations struggle to recruit the experts needed.
Much of the media coverage around the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has focused on the doctors and nurses volunteering to travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. There is no doubt that the bravery of these health workers, taking time away from their lives and jobs with the NHS, are an essential part of the humanitarian response to Ebola. Yet they only represent one part of the response needed.
Medical staff alone won’t bring this crisis under control. One of the main risks currently undermining international efforts to tackle Ebola is a shortage of specialist support functions such as engineers and sanitation experts capable of training local staff and volunteers how to practice effective infection control, and engineers capable of building suitable facilities.
World Health organization data showing a decrease in new infections in Liberia suggests that progress is being made towards defeating Ebola there. Yet much more help is needed and it remains an extremely labour intensive humanitarian response. Each Ebola Treatment Unit operating 100 beds, requires a team of over 200 people, including international and locally recruited staff. The world cannot risk complacency in the coming weeks or many thousands more people will die unnecessarily of Ebola in West Africa.
Experts and volunteers from every profession including healthcare practitioners, water, sanitation and environmental health experts, psychosocial staff, logisticians, human resources and finance specialists need to consider how they may be able to help contain the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
If you are interested in volunteering or working in West Africa to help halt the spread of Ebola you can join International Medical Corps’ emergency response team in a range of roles currently being recruited at http://internationalmedicalcorps.org/ebola-emergency-response