Student group holds Ebola Awareness Week

Action Against Ebola to raise funds, awareness

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Student group Action Against Ebola is holding Ebola Awareness Week this week to raise funds, collect supplies and spread awareness. 

John Pappas | Cavalier Daily

Student group Action Against Ebola is hosting Ebola Awareness Week this week to raise funds for and student awareness of the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

AAE was established about three weeks ago, but it has already organized a series of events to spread awareness, raise money and accept donated supplies.

“We’re talking about what we can do to help,” Awamengwi said. “We need to focus on the issue, not protecting ourselves, the issue is helping the people that are suffering and containing it over there.”

The organization aims to spread awareness about Ebola and what students can do to make a difference in light of its recent spread across West Africa.

“There are many people that don’t care, and we need to unroot that and affect people’s minds,” fourth-year College student Clarisse Awamengwi said. “There’s no reason to panic; the people who should be panicked are the people who do not have medical supplies or access to doctors.”

Dr. Richard Shannon, vice president for health affairs, further emphasized the low likelihood of Ebola contraction in the United States.

“Ebola can only be contracted through contact with bodily secretions, and so unlike flu, it is not borne in the air,” Shannon said. “We know that there are these three areas in West Africa where the epidemic is occurring, and unless you have been there in the last 21 days, it would be very unlikely that you could get Ebola.”

The University is initiating precautions for Ebola which are derived from the preexisting infectious disease control protocol. University President Teresa Sullivan sent an email on Monday informing students these protocols are in place.

“The U.Va. Health System, through the U.Va. Medical Center, has plans and protocols in place to handle infectious diseases, and remains in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health,” Sullivan said in the email.

Fourth-year College student Audrey Ogendi emphasized AAE’s goals of improving student knowledge about Ebola and moving away from generalizations about the location and details of the disease.

“Everyone has this perception that Africans now all have Ebola,” Ogendi said. “It’s a negative stigma that shouldn’t be lurking around.”

Containment, Awamengwi said, plays a major role in the effort to prevent Ebola from spreading internationally.

“We’re talking about what we can do to help,” Awamengwi said. “We need to focus on the issue, not protecting ourselves, the issue is helping the people that are suffering and containing it over there.”

The group is asking for donations of latex-free gloves, face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and plastic aprons. These items will be sent to American-based organization Liberians Against Ebola, while funds raised will benefit Samaritan's Purse, GOAL, and Caritas International. 

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