The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents Societies (IFRC) today launched a 1.4 million Swiss franc emergency appeal to support the Angola Red Cross Society respond to the worst yellow fever outbreak in the country in 30 years.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3,400 people in Angola may have contracted the disease, with suspected cases reported in all of Angola’s 18 provinces since December 2015. Staff and volunteers with the Angola Red Cross are working hard to support yellow fever vaccination campaigns.
“Tragically, more than 350 people in Angola have already died from this outbreak,” said Dr Adinoyi Adeiza, IFRC Health Coordinator, Africa region. “People are understandably anxious and it is important that we engage them to help address their fears and dispel possible superstitions, and to ultimately support them in understanding what they can do to prevent the spread of yellow fever.
“Angola Red Cross volunteers and staff are conducting door-to-door visits, engaging people in radio debates and providing advice on what people can do to reduce the risk of falling ill with yellow fever. This includes suggesting measures in the home and community to eliminate sites where mosquitoes can breed.
“Red Cross volunteers are also explaining why vaccination is important and the need for a vaccination campaign.”
Community-based solutions to tackle yellow fever are at the forefront of the Red Cross response. Angola Red Cross volunteers and staff have close links with the local communities and long-standing experience in responding to vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya.
The IFRC appeal will support the Angola Red Cross Society to scale up its activities and reach 9 million people through community engagement, health care, and hygiene promotion.
“The need for a large-scale community engagement approach is increasingly important as vaccination campaigns scale up,” said Dr Julie Lyn Hall, IFRC Director of Health. “As much as we try to provide solutions, it is the communities who are the drivers of the response and are the key to the success of it.
“Efforts will focus on effective and sustained two-way communication and engagement with communities, as the most effective means to tackle yellow fever and build a lasting community understanding of how to prevent and control it,” Dr Hall added.
The Angola Red Cross Society and IFRC are working closely with the Government of Angola, WHO, UNICEF and other partners to put an end to the outbreak. The yellow fever outbreak has spread to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, where IFRC is also supporting the National Red Cross Society and working with partners to respond to the situation.