The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has claimed around 11,300 lives since late 2013. More than 99% of these occurred in the three West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The United Nations has suggested that better hygiene in schools in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic has dramatically cut infections among teachers and students.
Some five million children in the three west African countries had their studies disrupted as schools were closed from July 2014 until January 2015, the UN children's agency said. A UNICEF statement said, "There have been no reported cases of a student or teacher being infected at a school since strict hygiene protocols were introduced when classes resumed at the beginning of the year. In Liberia, two schools had to be decontaminated as a precaution after a student died in June and another was infected in July."
Geoff Wiffin, the UNICEF representative in Sierra Leone said, "The massive effort that went into making schools as safe from Ebola transmission as possible appears to have paid off. Children learned in school how to protect themselves and others from Ebola, and they passed on those messages to their parents and their communities. This played an important role in the battle against the epidemic."
The measures developed by UNICEF and its partners include taking body temperature of the children and staff at the school gate and installing hand washing stations. It also involved the distribution of millions of soap bars and chlorine.