The Atlanta-based Carter Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its affiliated CDC Foundation are supporting a 10-week training program with 4,000 chiefs and community leaders in Liberia as part of a grassroots initiative to combat the spread of the Ebola virus.

Tom Crick, associate director of the Carter Center’s conflict resolution program, told Global Atlanta that the initiative, which began on Nov. 18, is being conducted in cooperation with Liberia’s ministries of health and social welfare, and internal affairs.

The program involves all of Liberia’s 88 health districts and should provide at least 10,000 health volunteers.

The program includes four days of training at each of the 88 locations. Trainers will be instructed on the first day, followed by 45 chiefs on the second day and then by approximately 55 community health workers on each of the next two days. 

The second day participants include paramount chiefs, clan chiefs, elders, women, youth and religious leaders in each district.

Following their training the community health volunteers are to conduct a door-to-door campaign in search of active cases, and to provide information about contact tracing, surveillance, safe burial and survivor stigma reduction.

The program has been launched in nine priority counties including Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Bomi, Lofa, Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Margibi, which still are considered to be “hot spot” communities.

The Carter Center is to provide operational  and logistics support, including partial funding through the CDC Foundation and the government of Sweden, and with technical and material support from UNICEF and the CDC. Carter Center personnel are on the ground supporting seven teams involved in the outreach.

The center has been active in Liberia through an Access to Justice Program as well as mental health and access to information programs. In 1997, 2005, and 2011, the center observed Liberia’s national elections and implemented an electoral assistance program in the 2005 elections with the support of the Carter Centre U.K.