Ebola Epidemic in West Africa
To date, thousands of people across West Africa have contracted the Ebola virus. This outbreak is already the largest on record, and some experts predict that in the worst-case scenario, Ebola could infect more than a million by January. The virus is spreading and has had a high mortality rate due to poor access to treatment. There are currently no approved drugs to treat or prevent Ebola.i
International relief agencies and some world governments have mobilized to assist with virus containment and treatment, and medical research groups are fast-tracking the development of a vaccine. However, despite increased local and international response to the epidemic, the Ebola outbreak has been difficult to manage. The hardest-hit countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, are extremely poor, and their health care systems are stretched beyond already strained limits. They lack the supplies, equipment, and staff necessary to treat and contain the virus.ii
This ongoing epidemic is disastrous for people in West Africa on many fronts. The outbreak has left many around the globe wondering how to help those affected by the disease and the related fallout.
Important Considerations When Giving to Ebola Relief Efforts
An outbreak such as Ebola causes disaster-like devastation. For donors interested in supporting relief efforts, many of the considerations around disaster philanthropy also apply to an outbreak of this scale.
Similar to other types of disaster philanthropy, giving in the early phases of Ebola relief should focus on the short term – containing the epidemic and providing immediate aid. Once the epidemic has been contained and countries begin to stabilize, the response will more fully focus on rebuilding the local economy and health care infrastructure, as well as creating emergency plans for future medical emergencies.
For additional considerations related to disaster giving, donors should read When to Give: The Four Phases of Disaster Relief. The content provides insights and context to help guide donors as they determine how they might respond.
Supporting relief efforts
Donors interested in supporting Ebola relief efforts should look for international aid organizations with experience in Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea, or strong local organizations. All organizations should have a successful track record with these programmatic areas and have made specific resource commitments to work with these populations.
Currently, the greatest need is containing and treating the virus where it is most prevalent: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and neighboring countries. However, in considering where to support relief efforts, donors may want to focus on a specific interest or an area that aligns with their overall background and experience.
Ebola relief efforts fall into three support categories, each equally important to relief efforts.
- Providing supplies, awareness, and infrastructure support by working with local partners in health care, government, and social services to deliver basic needs such as medicines and protective equipment, as well as supporting public health communications to prevent Ebola’s spread.
- Providing medical services and training, from preparing new health workers and staffing clinics to strengthening existing health and sanitation infrastructure.
- Finding a cure by funding research for vaccine development.
For donors interested in giving to relief efforts, below are organizations that Fidelity Charitable has confirmed are specifically focusing on Ebola and that have long-term local partnerships in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The list is organized by an organization’s main relief activity, but many of these organizations may be active in more than one category.
|Organization||Address||Tax ID Number|
|88 Hamilton Avenue
Stamford, CT 06902
|PO Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013
|55 Park Place NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
|27 South La Patera Lane
Goleta, CA 93117
|45 S.W. Ankeny Street
Portland, OR 97204
|10615 Judicial Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030-7501
|226 Causeway Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02114-2206
|501 Kings Highway East
Fairfield, CT 06825
|Revenue Processing Department
125 Maiden Lane, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10038
|Organization||Address||Tax ID Number|
|333 7th Ave., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001 - 5004
|12400 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
|PO Box 845578
Boston, MA 02284-5578
Please note that this does not represent a full list of organizations raising money for the relief efforts needed as a result of the Ebola epidemic. Fidelity Charitable does not endorse these organizations, and provides this list for reference purposes only. All grant recommendations are subject to review and approval by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees.
Supporting a local charity can have a significant impact on an affected region, as these organizations typically have expertise in both the geographic area and a specific issue area. When giving locally, donors should review an organization's operational track record in disaster relief and relevant service capabilities, and confirm that it can handle large donations.
Last Mile Health, based in Liberia, and the Wellbody Alliance, based in Sierra Leone, are two specific examples of local response to Ebola. These charities are working with the US-based Partners in Health to scale up, rebuild, and develop local health systems to better address future health issues.
Organizations active in finding a cure
Medical research is a complex, resource-intensive method of support that can require a high level of donor involvement. Currently, many organizations are fast-tracking Ebola drug and vaccine research, with various approaches to find what will work.
Donors interested in pursuing research philanthropy should track vaccine development, and consider following the lead of other large organizations funding Ebola vaccine research. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites also provide ongoing updates on Ebola vaccine research.
Additional relief considerations
Faith-based support considerations
While Fidelity Charitable does not highlight specific faith-based relief organizations, they can be an extremely effective way to respond to Ebola. Religious charities are often at the forefront of disaster relief, and may already have a presence in the impacted communities or connections with local partners in the affected countries. For additional information about faith-based giving, contact your particular house of worship or its relief agency to learn more about its role in disaster relief before recommending a grant for this purpose.