THE BLOG
08/23/2014 07:11 pm ET Updated Oct 23, 2014

On the Front Lines of the Ebola Outbreak

In the face of the deadly Ebola outbreak, 2002 World of Children Award Honoree, Luke Hingson, is leading a major mobilization to help supply desperately needed medical equipment and supplies to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Brother's Brother, Hingson's organization, has already shipped five 40-foot containers of supplies into this ravaged region of the world and more 40-foot shipping containers are being prepared now for shipment very soon.

"Basic protective gear is in high demand right now because every patient arriving at a clinic or hospital in these areas must be treated as a potential Ebola patient," says Hingson. "Health care workers double and triple their use of protective gear and all of it is incinerated after contact."

There is an urgent need for more of these supplies as well as for items that we, in the United States, would dispose of but could be recycled into use there. An example is hospital mattresses because once these are in contact with Ebola patients in Liberia or Sierra Leone they should be destroyed.

Children are being heavily impacted by this epidemic in three ways:

  1. First, children are in constant physical contact with the adults around them, and Ebola is spread exclusively by contact with bodily fluids including perspiration
  2. Second, children are highly susceptible to the disease as they are not strong and are often undernourished, which means their survivability potential is minimal
  3. Third, because children are losing parents and guardians, they are being left even more vulnerable than before

Brother's Brother has always been responsive to crises, but this one presents special challenges. Shipping items into the affected areas has been slowed down due to fear of the disease spreading, so airlines and shipping companies have either withdrawn from the area or restricted their shipping into the area, creating a backlog. Because Brother's Brother works directly with the governments and the health care organizations in the areas, they are generally able to make sure their supplies get through on a timely basis, but there can still be a shipping lag of many weeks or even months. Thus, it is imperative that a steady stream of shipments is maintained.

To complicate matters, there are some 200 hospitals and clinics being supplied in the affected areas so internal distribution can be challenging. In spite of all the exigencies, Hingson states, "We are responding to direct requests on a regular basis and shipping everything we can collect, from disinfectant soaps to hospital gowns, from protective gloves and masks to mattresses and even body bags for those who do not survive the epidemic."

Maintaining a steady stream of protective gear is essential to keeping the local health care workers on the job as the fear of contracting the disease has frightened many off. In the meantime, fears of a further spread of the disease are fueled by the actions of those who, for lack of education, or because of local ethnic beliefs and rumors, do not believe this is an epidemic and thus leave the clinics and hospitals, or are taken away as a result of armed conflict.

In 2002, Hingson was honored with the prestigious World of Children Award. Today, World of Children Award is eager to continue to help Hingson in his efforts. Those who wish to help with either donations of usable materials such as protective gloves, masks, footwear, full body protective gear or other medical supplies, and those who wish to make a cash contribution can do so at World of Children Award's website by visiting www.worldofchildren.org/support-ebola-victims

World of Children Award is grateful to Geisinger Health System for their generous donation of critical supplies to this program.