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Entebbe, Uganda. Air Serv International, with the assistance of a grant from the ISTAT Foundation, has donated an aircraft to Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the purpose of supporting Ebola response efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The use of the Cessna Caravan and all associated costs were covered entirely in an effort to assist MSF in focusing resources on battling the epidemic, rather than on the transportation logistics of desperately needed medicines and materials.
“We are extremely grateful to the ISTAT Foundation for their support in helping us to carry out such a valuable mission,” says Air Serv CEO Stu Willcuts. “We could not do what we do without the generosity of our partners and supporters. The impact of donations and grants such as this one from the ISTAT Foundation is immediate and direct.”
The donated flight departed Entebbe, Uganda on October 12 carrying medicine, medical equipment, and relief cargo. After first stopping to refuel in Bunia, DRC, the aircraft and crew continued on to Beni for delivery of the supplies. Officials confirmed Saturday that a second wave of the virus has broken out in eastern DRC following the initial outbreak which has killed over 125 people. Beni has now become the epicenter of the response.
In addition to obstacles they are facing in treating and controlling the spread of the virus, response workers are meeting resistance from families of the deceased regarding safe burial practices and handling of remains, putting untrained civilians at risk of exposure. Even more dangerous is the risk posed to first responders who are navigating dangerous territory where violent outbreaks are impeding access to healthcare. While Ebola outbreaks have occurred before, this is the first time in history that an outbreak has taken place in active war zone with armed conflict. The threat faced by all living and working in the province is very real.
Air Serv is requesting donations and pledges toward their rapid response programs in order to increase emergency response capabilities. Donor-supplemented programs will permit Air Serv to provide life-saving transport services at minimal cost, allowing partner organizations to focus the bulk of their budgets where they are most valuable such as providing healthcare, shelter, food, and sanitation. Donations can be made through the Air Serv website at www.airserv.org.