The head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is hopeful that the spread of the deadly Ebola virus can be defeated. But he says quick action is essential to make that happen.
More than 1,500 Red Cross volunteers are working in communities in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, countries where people have been infected with the virus.
Elhady as Sy is the new Secretary-General of the International Red Cross federation. He recently visited Red Cross volunteers in Guinea and Sierra Leone. He says he wanted to show these brave women and men that they were not alone in their fight against Ebola.
“I, I don’t know how I would look like if six months after Ebola then I, then I come to say ‘thank you,’ and while during that time when they were on the field, you know, risking their lives and doing the best they could and I sit in Geneva all the time.”
Mr. Sy says national Red Cross societies throughout the world are helping to stop the spread of Ebola. He says almost 130 Red Cross employees are working in places affected by Ebola. And he says volunteers are coming from 17 different countries around the world, including neighboring Ivory Coast and Rwanda. Volunteers have also come from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ebola has infected people in those countries in the past so workers there know a lot about the virus.
“And I think that showed a, you know, very strong sense of, you know, solidarity -- that all resources are required. Expertise is a resource. Experience of having worked in an Ebola setting is a resource. You know, bringing your own knowledge of the environment and the cultural setting is a resource. And, of course, we badly need the financial resources and the infrastructure and the equipments, you know, that will allow us, you know, to cope and then continue to support the response.”
More than 1,000 people have already died in the most-recent spread of the disease in West Africa. Mr. Sy says it will take many months before the spread is stopped. He says many more people will die.
“While we are very happy with what is being done, we are always asking ourself if it is enough -- probably not. It’s not enough because we need to keep on going to scale to reach almost everybody. There is nothing like a half solution in this kind of crisis. So, 50 percent or 70 percent or even 80 will not be satisfactory. We will only make a difference if we walk the whole last mile to the hundred percent.”
Secretary-General Sy says it is important to continue the fight against the disease, especially when the number of cases starts to drop. He says, in the past, efforts against the disease have slowed as the number of infections slowed. He says it would be a disaster if that happened again. He says the fight against Ebola must continue until the spread of the disease is completely stopped.
I’m Caty Weaver.
This report is written by VOA reporter Lisa Schlein in Geneva. It is adapted for Learning English by Christopher Cruise and edited by Caty Weaver.