CONAKRY, GUINEA - The Guinean government says it is sending 2,000 young people door to door to educate families about Ebola.
The initiative comes after the brutal killings of eight health workers and journalists as they traveled in the southeast as part of a government convoy to raise awareness about the virus.
Guinea’s government said what happened in the village of Wome last week must not happen again.
Government spokesman Albert Damatang Camara said 20 people have been arrested in an ongoing investigation and that changes are under way in their Ebola strategy.
“What happened in Wome goes beyond description and it came as a surprise,” Camara said. "[They] are reinforcing security around the awareness campaign teams."
He noted security forces will not be quarantining any areas. Their mission will be to protect health workers.
Local organizations are calling upon the government to intensify its Ebola awareness campaign. Churches and mosques around Conakry have joined in on education efforts at the request of the government.
Yet, resistance and hostility to health workers still exists, particularly in the southeast where this regional outbreak is believed to have started in December.
The Ministry of Youth is training 2,100 young people to embark on a nationwide door-to-door awareness campaign next week.
“These young people will be giving out materials to ensure family members know how protect themselves from Ebola," Youth Minister Moustapha Naite said. "They will gather statistics on what happens on the ground to enable us to know which homes were visited and where volunteers face resistance and refusal.”
His announcement came just days after Sierra Leone completed a similar exercise. Health authorities there said that three-day campaign was a success and more than one million homes were visited.
Naite says unlike Sierra Leone, Guinea is not ordering people to stay confined to their homes.
Ebola has killed more than 600 people in Guinea, and more than 2,800 across the region overall.