The Deputy Representative of the United Nations International Children Education Fund – UNICEF, Dr. Fazlul Haque, has announced that the current closure of schools throughout the country due to the Ebola outbreak has affected about 16 percent of school-going children.
Dr. Haque calls for psychosocial support for children and family members affected as a result of the closure of schools as well as for those kids made orphans and are being quarantined due to the death of their parents from Ebola.
“15% of all recorded confirmed cases are children, as a large number of them are those who lost their parents to Ebola”, the deputy UNICEF boss noted and added, “These children are now in an extremely vulnerable position and are unable to access the usual community supports due to stigma and fear of people catching the disease.”
The Liberian government ordered closure of schools in July, including universities and colleges as part of several measures to halt the spread of the Ebola virus disease across the country. According to a press release, Dr. Haque made the statement at a UNICEF sponsored five days training of trainers (TOT) workshop in Monrovia on Monday, September 15th.
The workshop brought together over 25 health workers and clinicians from the 15 counties and was facilitated by international partners of the Red Cross. He stressed the need for more health centers and Ebola Treatment Units to be constructed due to the mounting Ebola case load that is clearly evident, stressing, “There is at the moment a pressing need to scale up our work in providing more Ebola treatment facilities.
He also promised the Liberian Government UNICEF’s support through training and events that will provide social workers and mental health clinicians relevant skills and the ability to roll out the needed for psychosocial services to meet the needs of communities that are affected by the deadly Ebola virus.
According to him, there are currently over 2,500 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of Ebola in Liberia, with 1,349 deaths, the highest in the sub region, while 75% of all confirmed cases are women and mothers who are primary caregivers.
For her part, Deputy Health Minister, Vivian Cherue, thanked UNICEF for the gesture and encouraged the participants to take the training seriously in order to train others after the five days.