Category: Health

Ebola virus disease explained: Q&A



An outbreak of Ebola has left thousands dead in West Africa. The Red Cross, along with other humanitarian agencies, is working to stop the spread of the deadly and highly contagious disease.

1. What is the Ebola virus?

Ebola virus disease is a severe and often fatal illness – outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Outbreaks occur predominately in remote villages in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

The first incidence of Ebola was in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks: in Nzara, Sudan, and in Yambuku, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo close to the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The origin of the virus is unknown. The current Ebola outbreak is the largest ever documented, both in terms of the number of cases and the size of the affected area.


In pictures: the difference clean water and toilets make in Kenya



In developed countries such as the UK, it’s easy to take simple things like flushing a toilet or a glass of water for granted.

But an estimated 2.5 billion people (more than one third of the world’s population) do not have access to basic sanitation such as toilets.

And then there’s the issue of fetching water. The average distance walked by women in Africa and Asia to fetch water? A sobering 3.5 miles.

World Water Day on Sunday serves as a reminder that much more needs to be done to address the global imbalance.


How a former patient became a volunteer


Carol-Looby-kettle-BLOGWhen she broke her hip, Carol Looby wasn’t just impressed by how the British Red Cross helped her – she vowed to become a volunteer once she was better.

“I love my uniform. I always say to people: ‘Don’t you think it looks friendly?’”

Carol beams with pride as she shows off the kit she wears while volunteering for the British Red Cross’ support at home service in Leeds.

Over the past 18 months, she’s helped more than 40 people at home, often visiting them many times over the course of several weeks.

Her visits enable vulnerable people to leave hospital earlier – and sometimes mean they don’t need to be admitted in the first place. More

‘Volunteering landed me a job’


Sarah-Coull-BLOG2Young mother Sarah Coull was fed up with being unemployed, so tried her hand at volunteering – and hey presto, it soon landed her a job. Here’s her story.

After leaving education, I spent a while struggling to find work. Like lots of people my age, I kept trying but the jobs just weren’t out there.

While I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do for a career, the prospect of care work had always interested me. I think older people are often marginalised, which isn’t fair. More

Ebola outbreak – after the quarantine


Ebola-Anna-blogJinna Amara had been ill for several days. No one knew what was wrong with her.

Upon hearing that his cousin was sick, Mustapha Mambu did what anyone else would do – he cared for her and tried to get her treatment.

Mustapha went to fetch his cousin from her home in Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone, in late September.

He wasn’t to know that she had Ebola. Sadly, three days after bringing her home, she died. But worse was to come.


Five reasons why the NHS needs the Red Cross

Five reasons why the NHS needs the Red Cross
1. We keep people out of hospital

Granny-in-and-out-hospitalOlder patients needing minor treatment often end up being admitted to hospital simply because doctors are worried about how they’ll cope alone afterwards.

But if our support at home volunteers promise to call round regularly and check all is okay, that worry disappears. Result: happy patients who don’t need to stay away from home, less pressure on over-worked medical staff and more available hospital beds. More

Living with death: an Ebola doctor’s diary – part two


EbolaIn the second of this five-part series, Dingeman Rijken gives a heartbreaking insight into the life of a Red Cross Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone. 

Going home – Thursday 4 December

Every morning the intravenous team goes into the high-risk zone to take blood samples from patients suspected or confirmed to have Ebola, and from patients who appear to have recovered.