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Finnish aid efforts head to Sierra Leone

The Finnish Red Cross (FRC) will send 13 workers and 20,000 kilograms of relief supplies to Sierra Leone’s cholera-hit areas this week. Over 11,000 people in the country have already fallen ill.

Spr:n työntekijä, taustalla nuoria.
Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

The Finnish aid workers are to set up and run two cholera clinics. The supplies will include power generators, water purification apparatus, beds and medication.

According to the FRC, the clinics will also employ local personnel as required.

“Cholera spreads through poor hygiene and contaminated drinking water,” Deputy Director of International Operations, Päivi Laurila, says in a press release on the organisation’s webpage. “Heavy rains, the complete lack of sanitary facilities, the bad condition of existing sanitary facilities and poorly built lavatories have already spread the disease over large areas of Sierra Leone’s western part.”

Laurila says that it is still difficult to determine the scope of the epidemic. Over 11,000 people have fallen ill this year, and an estimated 157 have died of the disease.

“Many people don’t have the possibility to seek treatment due to poverty and lack of services, so it’s likely that there are significantly more of those who have become sick or died. Some of the infected have it in such a mild form that they don’t see a need to turn to health services,” Laurila says.

The Norwegian, Japanese, Canadian and British Red Cross organisations are also planning to send aid to Sierra Leone in the coming days.

The country’s government and the local Red Cross have requested help with stemming the epidemic.

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