The Ebola outbreak affecting Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria was largest in history and the first in West Africa. During the main outbreak (Spring 2014 to Fall 2015), the virus spread to 28,465 people and took the lives of over 11,000. Sierra Leone and Liberia were especially hard hit, with high concentrations in urban areas.
The scarcity of medical supplies proved to be a major barrier to the eradication of this outbreak. Because Ebola is transmitted via bodily fluids, personal protective equipment (PPE) had to be worn by anyone administering care to infected patients, including 2-3 pairs of gloves, a gown, eye protection, a face mask, and shoe covers. With the logistics supply chain severely constricted and the amount of supplies desperately needed reaching an all-time high, many aid organizations initially found it difficult to deliver the aid necessary to combat this epidemic.
Airlink recognized the dire need in West Africa. In August 2014, Airlink pulled together five of its nonprofit partners – Afya Foundation, AmeriCares, ChildFund International, Direct Relief, and MedShare – who had aid supplies to deliver to Liberia. Through a cooperative effort between logistics actors (American Logistics Aid Network, LIFT, UPS, and FedEx), and charter airline ATX Air Services, Airlink was able to coordinate the delivery of 15,000 pounds of PPE to Monrovia, Liberia on August 25.
Later that same week, Airlink also organized a shipment of nearly 5,000 pounds of PPE and other medical supplies to Sierra Leone, donated by the National Organization for Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA). Thanks to Brussels Airlines and Kuehne + Nagel, this shipment of much-needed medical relief arrived quickly in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where it was used immediately.
Then, with the realization that the situation was continuing to deteriorate and with the help of a USD $3 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Foundation, Airlink established an Air Bridge from the US and Europe directly into West Africa, and delivered more than 500 tons of aid cargo and nearly 70 healthcare workers to support the crisis. The Airlink Air Bridge initiative was created to fulfill Airlink’s Commitment to Action as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and includes partnerships with Direct Relief International, AmeriCares, LIFT, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Greenbaum Foundation, ChildFund International, AFYA Foundation, American Logistics Aid Network, Brussels Airlines, and Western Global Airlines. To see the full commitment, please visit our Commitment page.
Shipments included 2 forklifts, and aid cargo totaling more than:
- 3,175,547 pairs of gloves
- 2,194,093 masks and respirators
- 228,569 goggles, hoods, and safety glasses
- 173,716 full-body personal protective equipment
- 186,574 syringes and blood collection supplies
- 70,312 units of infection control supplies
- 568,719 units general medical and surgical supplies