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Leocem commits €50,000 to Ebola fight

SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

Cement manufacturing company, Leocem, yesterday donated €50,000 ($64,500) to UNICEF as part of their contribution in the fight against the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.

Managing Director of the company handed over the cheque to UNICEF Deputy Representative, Gopal Sharma, at the organisation’s country office in Freetown.

The first case of Ebola was reported in Sierra Leone in May this year in Kailahun District. Since then the disease has been spreading in the country with almost every district now affected. As at 21 September, at total of 501 people are confirmed dead out of a total of 1,696 but 374 have survived the disease and were discharged from treatment facilities.

“Leocem is happy to be part of the fight against the Ebola disease and with our collective collaboration with UNICEF and other partners, Ebola will surely be eliminated,” said Arne Johansen, Managing Director of Leocem.

Misconceptions, myths and mistrusts have been fuelling the spread of the disease in several communities, especially in Kenema and Kailahun districts. Widespread denials are posing significant challenges in educating communities, especially those affected by the disease. The recently concluded Ose-to-Ose (house-to-house) campaign was a demonstration of how the authorities could reach many households with much needed information and education on Ebola prevention.

“The contribution of Leocem will contribute to fighting the spread of the disease and changing attitudes and behaviour,” said Gopal Sharma, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Sierra Leone. “UNICEF is spearheading social mobilization campaigns in communities across the country so that they are reached with the right information and education on Ebola and with support like this, we are hopeful that positive attitude and behaviour will be enhanced.”

The money, according to UNICEF, will go towards strengthening the organisation’s work on social mobilization.

“In order to enhance positive behaviour and attitude changes towards the disease and address stigma and discrimination, UNICEF is intensifying social mobilization campaigns in all 13 districts through community engagement and mobilization via street-to-street announcements, house-to-house mobilization, and awareness-raising using vehicles and motorcycles equipped with public address systems,” the organisation said in a release.

UNICEF is a member of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and supports activities in five of the Pillar Groups that have been set up under the Ebola Operations Center and National Ebola Taskforce: Coordination; Social Mobilization, Surveillance and Laboratory, Logistics, and Child Protection/Social Protection pillar.