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The Work of SIM in Fighting Ebola

• Daniel Baker

Posted in Evangelism, Mission, Service

The world’s first widespread Ebola epidemic has ravaged three neighboring West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, with Liberia currently experiencing the brunt of this deadly epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number of infections at 8,033 and the number of deaths at 3,865(As of October 5, 2014 -, October 9, 2014). Moreover, the CDC states that cases in Liberia are doubling every 15-20 days, while those in Sierra Leone and Guinea are doubling every 30-40 days. Without additional intervention programs or changes in community behavior, the CDC predicts there may be as many as 1.4 million cases by mid-January 2015. This has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the situation an international health emergency.

Ebola continues to run rampant in West Africa for three significant reasons. First, these countries all lack the healthcare infrastructure to respond to a crisis of this magnitude. Second, community-influencers and individuals have disregarded the importance of understanding the nature of this virus and how it is spread. Third, the lack of initial inertia by organizations and governments that could have impacted this crisis earlier in its course has prolonged the trajectory of the outbreak.

The cost of not acting now may spell devastation for these three West African countries. The loss of human life may climb to 700,000. The potential impact of such loss on cultures, economies and societies in these countries is almost incalculable. Immediate action is required.

SIM is uniquely positioned for impact in the face of this Ebola outbreak. SIM has developed infrastructure which has been impacting healthcare and communities in Liberia since 1954. Through ELWA Hospital, Radio ELWA, and the Evangelical Church of Liberia (ECOL), the church denomination resulting from SIM’s ministry, we stand uniquely prepared to make impact.

ELWA Hospital

SIM’s ELWA Hospital is arguably ground zero for the Ebola crisis in Liberia. The hospital that has provided quality medical care to the people of Monrovia and the greater Liberian community since 1965, responded to the Ebola threat with amazing creativity and flexibility. Facilities previously used for processing outpatient visits were incorporated into the Ebola Treatment Center when the volume of Ebola patients overwhelmed the number of available beds. However, when two missionaries and four Liberian nurses became infected with the Ebola virus, the hospital was forced to shut down temporarily. Three departments have since reopened: HIV treatment center, children’s immunization clinic, and the obstetrical department.

The subsequent addition of two more Ebola Isolation Units, with a combined total of over 300 beds, has severely strained the existing infrastructure of the ELWA campus. Generators at ELWA produce all of the power and water supplies for the hospital, Ebola units, ELWA radio, a school, and nearly 50 staff homes.

The response to the Ebola epidemic has depleted the hospital’s supplies – personal protective equipment (PPE), medicine, medical supplies, and linens are immediate needs – and put a tremendous strain on its fiscal state. Despite reestablishing the three services mentioned, the current volume of medical cases at the hospital is significantly reduced which negatively impacts the ability of the staff to serve the community effectively.

Providing hospital supplies, medical personnel and their salaries, and infrastructure is vital in responding to the Ebola crisis in Liberia. (#95127)

Radio ELWA

Misinformation and various tribal beliefs significantly hinder efforts to contain the Ebola virus. Education is needed to ensure controlling the spread of the virus and in shortening the life span of this outbreak. The medium of radio provides an excellent way to quickly disseminate important information regarding the Ebola virus to the public.

Radio ELWA has transmitted the hope of the gospel to West Africa since 1954 using both short-wave and FM transmissions. These methods of transmission provide coverage through much of West Africa. (#95127)

The Evangelical Church of Liberia (ECOL)

This denomination, which has grown out of SIM’s six decades of ministry in Liberia, ministers to both the spiritual and physical needs of individuals and communities in the name of Jesus. This strong partner church has intimate familiarity with the Liberian context and has the necessary flexibility and knowledge to move quickly and skillfully.

ECOL is conducting an Ebola awareness and ministry campaign which includes teaching preventative measures, offering counseling services, and giving relief assistance to patients, survivors, and others impacted by the Ebola virus. This vibrant church has lost several members to the Ebola virus, yet their focus remains steadfast, offering the love of Jesus Christ to its members and surrounding communities alike. (#95033)

SIM’s Response

The country of Liberia is unable to meet the minimum requirements stated by the CDC to bring this outbreak to an end.

Halting the epidemic requires that approximately 70% of Ebola cases be cared for in Ebola Treatment Units or, if they are at capacity, at home or in a community setting in which there is a reduced risk of disease transmission and safe burials are provided. (, October 9, 2014)

Successfully fighting Ebola will take money, supplies and qualified personnel in significant measure. SIM implores you to offer any resources at your disposal and to actively engage others in your sphere of influence.

Our focus over the next 90 days is to:

Provide all necessary assistance to ELWA Hospital and its three Ebola treatment units, including the infrastructure on the compound on which these medical treatment facilities rely. Medical equipment and supplies are needed, as are key hospital personnel, electrical power, sanitation, and clean water.
Make connections with people of influence who are able to help get supplies and personnel into Liberia.
Assist Radio ELWA to disseminate information about the Ebola virus, including proper responses to those infected and ways to reduce the chances of infection.

Two to Five year Timeline for Liberia:

Rebuild the public health and medical infrastructure.
Provide safe water and sanitation to health and medical facilities.
Send medical professionals and related personnel to staff and train others at these facilities.
Combat mistrust and misinformation in communities and churches.

In conjunction with this plan for Liberia, we recognize the need for a plan of action for the broader West African community as the threat of Ebola’s spread looms.

90-Day Timeline for West Africa:

Prepare, monitor, educate and cooperate with West African governmental authorities and local partners, as well as institutions in the USA in preparation for the possible spread of Ebola.
Train and equip personnel in healthcare institutions, local churches, and other partner ministries.
Develop contingency plans and monitor for the trigger points for these plans.
Develop handouts and training materials for use in communicating the truth about the Ebola virus.

We implore the international community – non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, and governmental authorities (local or national) alike – to deploy the necessary resources to stop the Ebola virus and rebuild the destroyed medical infrastructures of Liberia and West Africa.

Above all, SIM calls the Church to pray that God in His mercy would intervene and end the Ebola crisis (

Daniel Ramsay (the information from the SIM website)

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