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Ebola: Fighting the epidemic in West Africa

The Order of Malta launches preventive measures in Liberia and Guinea

Paris/Cologne, 2 October 2014

Ebola - wearing protective gear when dealing with patients

Ebola – wearing protective gear when dealing with patientsAs the worst Ebola outbreak since the discovery of the virus continues to run rampant in West Africa, the Order of Malta, through its relief agency, Malteser International, has added its the efforts to the fight against the spreading epidemic.

Marie Benner, Malteser International’s public health expert reports: “Although the international community has stepped up its efforts, the crisis continues to be overwhelming.”

Together with the Ordre de Malte France (OMF), awareness and prevention campaigns are being funded in Guinea, one of the countries most affected by the crisis. 

Prevention is key

“Preventive measures are key to control the outbreak and to keep it from spreading to neighbouring regions,” Benner says. “All communities must be informed and take measures to protect themselves.”

Ordre de Malte France has sent 1.6 tons of protective gear to Liberia – tents, coats, gloves, boots,  cleaning and disinfection products, prevention kits and medicines, and water purification tablets. Vital  equipment was also sent to the Ordre de Malte’s clinic in Pita, Guinea. Prevention kits allow health professionals to observe the necessary protocols to avoid the risk of contamination. 

A problem of global reach

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the epidemic of Ebola hemorrhagic fever as a “public health emergency of global reach”. More than 3,300 people in West Africa have died – in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Over 7,000 cases have been confirmed, and WHO warns that if the international community does not intensify its efforts, tens of thousands more could be infected within the next few months.

There is currently no vaccine to protect people against Ebola. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with blood, secretions, body fluids or organs. After an incubation period of 2-21 days, the patient starts displaying the first symptoms of high fever, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, or haemorrhaging. The average fatality rate is currently around 50%.

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.