Legacy of Target Ebola campaign lives on in Liberia
30 | 5 | 2017
The legacy of WOA’s 2014 and 2015 Target Ebola campaign in West Africa continues to have an impact in Liberia where the National Olympians Association and its NOC are using it as the inspiration behind their ongoing support of public health campaigns to meet local needs in the country.
Liberia was given the all-clear from the devastating Ebola epidemic in January 2016 following two outbreaks during the preceding two years, which claimed almost five thousand lives. Target Ebola, an Olympian-led campaign launched in October 2014 in collaboration with international aid organisation Oxfam and US humanitarian NGO Medisend International, facilitated the donation and shipment of vital supplies to help prevent the spread of Ebola at the height of the epidemic in the region’s worst hit countries – Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Since that time, the Liberian Olympians Association (LOA) has been working hard to support and strengthen the country’s public health and hygiene campaigns to ensure Liberia remains Ebola-free, as the country continues its recovery from the deadly outbreak.
This includes taking part in a nationwide hygiene awareness campaign, WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene), that provides hand washing and cleaning materials to students in schools. Olympians have been visiting schools in the capital Monrovia with the aim of educating children on the importance of maintaining hygiene standards to prevent the spread of disease.
The LOA, along with Olympian Wesley M. Johnson, who competed at Tokyo 1964 and went on to act as interim Vice-President of Liberia (2003-2006) and fellow former sprinter Hassan Kaiwu, has also been supporting an advocacy campaign that is aiming to change public perception around vaccinations, in particular the polio vaccination, which is often perceived to be linked to infertility in Liberia. The initiative, which supports the campaign to eradicate polio from the country by 2020, has seen a marked increase in the uptake of parents vaccinating their children since 2011. Other vaccinations supported by the campaign include measles, yellow fever and the BCG vaccine.
George B. Gould, Liberian Olympians Association and NOC President, said:
“During the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, our Olympians supported the fight to end the crisis with the help of the WOA’s Target Ebola campaign. As Liberia continues to recover from this terrible disease, we must remain vigilant and ensure our people are protected against further outbreaks.
“That is why we are working with our government to support nationwide health and hygiene campaigns that will help our communities and strengthen the social development of our country. Olympians have a duty to use their influence outside the sports sphere to make a positive impact on society – our involvement in these campaigns is a fulfilment of this objective.”