IsraAID joins West Africa fight against Ebola
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IsraAID joins West Africa fight against Ebola

Israeli aid team partners with Sierra Leone's first lady to offer psycho-social support to survivors, health care workers

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

IsraAID's Yotam Polizer, left, meets with the first lady of Sierra Leone Sia Nyama Koroma, center, and Sam Bangura, her policy advisor, and presents them with gifts from Israel. (photo credit: courtesy IsraAID)
IsraAID's Yotam Polizer, left, meets with the first lady of Sierra Leone Sia Nyama Koroma, center, and Sam Bangura, her policy advisor, and presents them with gifts from Israel. (photo credit: courtesy IsraAID)

Despite reports that Israeli officials had turned down international requests to help combat Ebola in disease-stricken West Africa, an Israeli aid team was on the ground in Sierra Leone this week as part of a national task force offering support to both health workers and the general population.

IsraAID, an Israel-based international relief group with standing missions in South Sudan, Phillipines, and tsunami-struck Japan, plans to send 30 experts in PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) prevention and stress management to help combat the stigmatization of Ebola as well as the discrimination that both survivors and the families of victims are facing. Their project, called the Psycho-Social Support (PSS) training program, will be similar to models launched in Jordan and Bulgaria to help Syrian refugees and in South Korea to help escapees of the North Korean regime.

IsraAID has partnered with Sia Nyama Koroma, the first lady of Sierra Leone, as well as the ministries of Health and Social Welfare in the country. They plan to lead training seminars with local social workers and health care officials, teaching tactics to help prevent trauma, manage stress and cope with the emotional effects of the crisis.

Organization officials say they are also holding strategic discussions with international health organizations to help curb the epidemic itself, and are specifically focusing their efforts on Liberia, where the lack of hospitals and clinics is making it especially difficult for doctors to contain the illness.

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