Liberia - Helping the red cross to contain ebola
A Red Cross Ebola treatment center in Guinea
Thanks to a relationship spanning more than 10 years with the Red Cross, Total was able to respond fast in an emergency situation. Géraldine Houlière of the French Red Cross and Fayiah Tamba, Secretary General of the Liberia National Red Cross Society, talk about how this collaboration helped bring the Ebola crisis under control.
"The Total Foundation’s €500,000 financial aid during the Ebola crisis was shared equally between the national Red Cross/Red Crescent associations of the three countries affected: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The monies were used to finance human resources –200 people a day were needed to run a 50-bed treatment centre–, to buy protective personal equipment, to allow families to disinfect their houses after a death and to pay for burials,” explains Géraldine Houlière. “These safe and dignified burials were a decisive factor in bringing the outbreak under control,” adds Fayiah Tamba, “Thanks to the financial aid, nationals familiar with local traditions were able to undertake a vast information campaign, convincing bereaved relatives to forsake traditional burials as the deceased remain contagious and explaining that those handling the bodies unsafely were highly likely to be contaminated,” he remarks.
Collaboration was vital
“It was very important that this campaign be undertaken by locals and Total’s familiarity with these residents and their needs translated into a global vision. The Group’s familiarity with the local environment and its high proportion of native employees means it understood that working with the national Red Cross was vital. A Total subsidiary, Hutchinson, even donated D100,000 worth of sterile gloves,” Géraldine Houlière notes.“Thanks to the protective equipment and protocols we are grateful that not one person on our burial teams in Liberia died of Ebola. We already had a positive image thanks to our work in health and sex education but we had to increase our visibility. With the financial support we were able to build up our communications to acceptable standards and the communities embraced us,” Fayiah Tamba concludes.