As part of its ongoing efforts to stop the spread of Ebola in Liberia, international Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is airlifting up to 100 tons of anti-Ebola medical supplies to the country.
Most of the items, which are being loaded aboard a 747 cargo jet in the US, are valued at US$800,000. They include personal protective equipment (PPEs), face masks, hand gloves and other supplies.
A 747 cargo jet chartered and stocked by Samaritan’s Purse departed yesterday, Wednesday, October 1, from Charlotte, North Carolina, bound for Liberia with the supplies to fight the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).
The coming of the supplies, according to Nathan Glancy, Samaritan’s Purse Liberia Disaster Team Leader, is the latest response to the harrowing and alarming predictions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention that more than a million people in Liberia and Sierra Leone could become infected with the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) by January.
Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization that provides aid to people in physical need as a fundamental part of their Christian missionary work.
The organization’s president is Franklin Graham, son of the eminent Christian evangelist Dr. Billy Graham. The name of the organization is based on the New Testament Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus uses a parable to teach people the second great commandment— how to "love your neighbor as yourself."
Samaritan’s Purse works in more than 100 countries around the world.
The bringing of the supplies is because of the rapidly growing numbers of people contracting Ebola in Liberia, for whom medical facilities cannot keep up with the demand and often do not have room for additional patients.
Many others are too frightened to seek medical help. To help these families, Samaritan’s Purse has additionally developed a community-based care program to train and equip people to care for their loved ones and protect themselves from the deadly disease.
“Behind me is a plane loaded with supplies and equipment to fight Ebola and save the lives of Liberian people,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham, was quoted as saying at a send-off ceremony for the airlift yesterday. The send-off was attended by Liberian Ambassador to the United States, Jeremiah C. Sulunteh.
According to him, the materials are “just a drop in the bucket. We need God’s help. Thousands have already died. Samaritan’s Purse is committed. With God’s help and with the support of many people in this country and around the world, we can beat Ebola.”
Samaritan’s Purse is known and respected in Liberia and has had an active country office there for more than a decade, providing various forms of relief to the previously war-torn country.
“It’s rejuvenating,” Ambassador Sulunteh said. “Help on the way, supplies on the way, it’s more than you can imagine. It means a lot. Samaritan’s Purse has been there even before Ebola. They have been there working with the people, providing health care, providing education. They are not strangers to Liberia. We remain so grateful for their support.”
Franklin Graham prayed that God will use the supplies, and the work of Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia, to bring healing and hope to many.
The flight signals a new strategy for the ministry as it continues its battle against the unprecedented outbreak, which has claimed over 3,000 lives in West Africa, including more than 1,800 in Liberia alone.
The revamped focus, in line with Liberian and international strategy, will be on establishing and supervising Community Care Centers in areas hard-hit by the deadly virus.
Beginning in Lofa County, near the outbreak’s epicenter along the border with Guinea, Samaritan’s Purse will train Liberians to run 10-bed facilities that provide basic supportive care. “Our national and international staff will manage operations,” said Mr. Graham.
Four large tents to be used in the set up of these facilities were onboard the 747, which represents just the beginning of work as Samaritan’s Purse is prepared to build and manage up to 15 Community Care Centers in rural areas across the country.
Also onboard the flight were supplies for thousands of infection protection and control kits. These kits will be distributed in communities as part of a massive public awareness campaign spearheaded by Samaritan’s Purse, which aims at reaching 300,000 people in multiple hot-spot counties in Liberia.
Each kit includes rubber gloves, a bucket, soap, disinfectant, and a specific disinfectant for treating drinking water. As the public health system in Liberia has been overwhelmed by the Ebola crisis, basic hygiene, especially hand-washing, has become more critical than ever.
In addition, items for a smaller number of caregiver kits were packed on the plane. They are intended for interim home-based interventions in cases where infected community members cannot go to an Ebola Treatment Unit (largest service provider) or a Community Care Center. These kits include protective clothing, hydration items, medicines, and disinfectant, among other items.
Samaritan’s Purse has been responding since March to the outbreak in Liberia. An initial awareness campaign provided potentially life-saving information to nearly 450,000 people, plus many more via radio spots. A church-focused campaign begun in August has reached several thousand religious leaders, representing approximately 450,000 congregants.