Today, Ebola continues to hit hardest in Sierra Leone, which reported 337 new cases in the last week of December, more than double those in Guinea and Liberia combined. In Sierra Leone, which already had the world's highest maternal mortality ratio and the fourth highest infant mortality rate, the impact of Ebola on children is huge and under-reported; and orphans remain the forgotten victims of the crisis.
The number of major crises taking place around the globe this past year has been unparalleled in recent history. In fact, 2014 often seemed filled with intractable emergencies that were simply too big, too complex and too daunting to fathom, let alone solve. This felt particularly true when it came to humanitarian action.
These children practiced their performance to express their gratitude to CARE and above all to show us that even in their desperate situation, they have dignity and hope for the future. Handwashing may seem like such a simple act, but for the kids in South Sudan, it can help raise the possibility of many more birthdays to come.
The Ebola epidemic is far from over. At this time children are severely affected both by the disease itself and the other sequelae that tragedies such as infectious disease and war leave behind. These children are in need of not just a biomedical approach to Ebola but a "whole-child" approach that addresses other issues that affect child wellbeing.
It was just 11 years ago when the World Health Organization slapped Toronto with a travel advisory, costing the city $2 billion and 28,000 jobs. This was not because of the number of SARS cases (similar in number to Singapore, which had no such advisory) but because Ottawa did not have a public health leader who could effectively coordinate with the provinces and communicate the outbreak's status to other countries.
Providing effective communication is critical to ensuring health care workers feel informed and safe at work. Nursing union representatives have clearly expressed that nurses do not feel prepared for Ebola in their hospitals. Media stories have documented how personal protective equipment and training for front line health workers hasn't been available in all hospital locations across the country.