Our staff in Sierra Leone is targeting a potential population of almost two million people with a training focused on vital Ebola prevention awareness. The project takes place in the region bordering Guinea under the UNICEF Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
By September 2021, 250 health care workers will be trained by our GOALies in Sierra Leone in Ebola Infection Prevention Control. 620 Community Mobilisers will also be deployed under the Community-Led Action approach in five border districts. These trainings and deployment of Community Mobilisers has been set in motion to fight the Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Guinea in February 2021.
Preparedness and surveillance as key tools
There are over 180 unofficial border crossings alone in Kambia, one of the districts being targeted. Continuous daily cross-border travel for markets and trading poses an ongoing infection risk. Guinea declared the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak over, but a state of surveillance remains. This helps to ensure that most at-risk communities are prepared. Though this latest outbreak has been officially declared over on 19 June 2021, it is believed to have originated from a dormant case deriving from the 2013 – 2015 epidemic, showing the need for continuous surveillance and preparedness.
Health care workers training, and health unit assessment is being delivered alongside the Community-Led Action approach. It is targeted to reach over 1,957,000 people across the Koinadugu, Kambia, Kenema, Falaba and Karene districts. The Community-Led Action was developed by GOAL during the deadly Ebola crisis in 2013. It is now also a nationally adopted approach to combat the spread of infectious diseases. By September, 620 trained Community Mobilisers will be deployed to 2,480 priority border district areas. They will help communities develop action plans to recognise, treat, and prevent the spread of Ebola through daily habits such as handwashing.
A tailor-made training
These trainings are interactive and tailored to best fit the needs of the participants.
Mariahu Jenaba Conteh is a nurse in Kambia. She is one of the 250 health care workers trained by GOAL under this project. When asked about the training she said: “We have learned so much through the training. It is very easy to follow and understand”.
The trainings are being led by Infection Prevention Control focal person, Hawa Kamara, from the Kambia District Health Management Team. She is joined in this work by the District Health Sister and a GOAL Project Officer.
Hawa said: “We are motivating those who have never been trained in Ebola preparedness. This is critical, especially given that most of them work in clinics on the Guinea border. If we’re not prepared at the start, it could be a disaster.”
She added that gaps were identified during an initial assessments phase and the trainings adapted accordingly. “This approach reminds communities that epidemic preparedness, including for Covid-19, requires continued vigilance within the communities that are most at-risk. This is why it is critical that we complete these trainings.”