The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will provide $10,000 in humanitarian assistance in response to the Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia. The funds are being disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response-International to Global Health Ministries at the request of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Global Health Ministries provides medical supplies and funding for health care programs in Lutheran churches in 20 countries.
The funds will help cover air-freight costs to deliver supplies to Monrovia, Liberia. According to a Global Health Ministries press release, the shipment of supplies will include “five pallets of PPEs (personal protection equipment).” In addition, Global Health Ministries is sending a 40-foot container ship that will carry more “urgently needed medical supplies and equipment in care of Phebe Hospital and Curran Hospital.” Phebe Hospital, a Lutheran hospital, is the largest public health institution in Liberia.
“The Ebola virus disease has been deadly unmerciful,” said the Rev. Jensen Seyenkulo, bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. “It has especially taken a toll on our health workers. This has led to the closure of most of our hospitals.”
Seyenkulo said that patients at Phebe Hospital have “fled the hospital for fear of the disease.” He added that nurses have “abandoned the wards after seeing four of their colleagues and a doctor succumb to the virus.”
“With the help of funds provided by our friends around the world, among them Lutheran Disaster Response, some nurses have returned for training on how to protect themselves, protective gear are being provided, there is a mass awareness campaign, and isolation units are being built,” said Seyenkulo. “We are very hopeful that the virus will not overrun our second hospital and that it will remain open because of steps these funds are making possible.”
In an email to the ELCA’s Global Mission unit, Seyenkulo asked that the ELCA not deploy any new missionaries to Liberia because of the Ebola virus.
According to the Rev. Andrea Walker, ELCA area program director for West Africa, ELCA missionary personnel in Liberia currently on leave in the United States “will not be able to go back” to Liberia “until the spread of this virus is contained.” Others who are waiting to be deployed as new missionaries in the country are on hold until the situation is under control.
The virus outbreak has spread to several African countries, including Sierra Leone where the ELCA has missionary personnel. “We do have someone in Sierra Leone and we are making arrangements to have him leave as soon as possible,” said Walker.
“We continue to pray for the people affected by this virus that has no cure,” she said.
Lutheran Disaster Response provides assistance to survivors of natural disasters and humanitarian crises throughout the world. This support is carried out, both domestically and internationally, in coordination with local affiliates – social ministry organizations, agencies, partners and international companion churches – located in the disaster-affected communities.