The prospect that Ebola will reach the United States in a big way has led the Department of Defense to deploy nearly 350 Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic Systems (JBAIDS) units to National Guard teams in all 50 states. In the meantime, the Alcoa Foundation is focusing its Ebola efforts in Guinea—an area of the world where an Ebola outbreak is actually occurring.
The foundation recently announced that it was awarding an $80,000 grant to the CDC Foundation to support its Ebola response efforts in Guinea.
CDC Foundation president Charles Stokes offered his thanks for the Alcoa grant, stating, “We are very appreciative of this grant from Alcoa Foundation, as it will help the CDC in its real-time response to the current outbreak, while also aiding disease surveillance and response going forward.”
A real-time response to Ebola is exactly what Guinea needs, as it has officially closed its borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. In two days, close to 70 new cases and 29 deaths due to Ebola were reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. As of August 6, close to 1,800 cases and 960 deaths were reported among the four countries. According to a few reports that are trickling in, a two-year old boy from a small village in southeastern Guinea is "Patient Zero" of the current Ebola outbreak.
A portion of Alcoa’s $80,000 grant will help the CDC in its efforts to provide prevention outreach programs to the public and healthcare workers in Guinea. The grant will also go toward providing resources that will help the CDC and other healthcare facilities in Guinea track Ebola transmission in an effort to help prevent the further spread of the disease. Esra Ozer, President of the Alcoa Foundation said:
Alcoa Foundation invests in programs that help improve the quality of life in Guinea. During this critical time, people need information and they need timely medical care. This grant provides support for healthcare awareness campaigns that are much-needed to help address the spread of this outbreak.
On the business side of things, Alcoa announced that it planned to participate in the Global Mining Forum hosted by Guinea Minister of Mines, Kerfalla Yansane. The areas of focus at the forum will be to explore ways to empower the next generation of miners, advance sustainable mining and will establish a Center of Excellence. The company has had presence in Guinea for quite some time and is a 45 percent shareholder of Halco Mining, so it makes sense that the company’s philanthropic arm is contributing to the health and well-being of its local community.
In addition to these latest grants toward the treatment, tracking and prevention of Ebola, the Alcoa Foundation has contributed to healthcare initiatives in Guinea toward the promotion and understanding of women’s health issues, improving the local response capacity for malaria and improving public sanitation.