Thursday, October 9, 2014

Innovative Ebola Management Training Program in Liberia: Sierra Leone Take Note

Harrison Sakela First Liberian
Ebola Survivor
The government of Liberia in consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO) has with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)  developed an innovative Ebola training program in Liberia that makes use of the experience of real survivors of the disease.

The training program is based on the assumption that people who have survived the Ebola Virus Disease are in the best position to explain the experience of the disease and what their needs were during the course of the infection.

An initial group of six Ebola survivors are working with instructors and trainees in situations that mimic true ebola disease experience. A mock Ebola treatment center has been established to simulate real world situations. The theoretical part of the program involves classroom education on clinical management of infectious and hemorrhagic fevers and the completion of courses on water and sanitation. The survivors will help the trainees to know what to look for in patients and what works best for them.
Ebola Health Workers Kenema, Sierra
Leone-All have Died from Infection

Dr. Abdikamal Alisalad the WHO training coordinator stated that the aim of the program was to train at least 400 health care workers who were to be sent to the new Ebola treatment centers that were being set up around the country.

Ebola Training in Liberia
Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone are struggling with shortage of health care workers to contain the Ebola situation whose containment has so far proved elusive. In Sierra Leone the government initially relied on the experience of Lassa Fever health care workers in managing the disease. As no specific Ebola training had been given to this group of health care workers, over 90% of the team, including the lead doctor and nurse lost their lives due to exposure to the highly virulent disease. Even though they had been working with Lassa Fever another hemorrhagic fever for years, Ebola was a far more virulent disease.
Poor Ebola Handling in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, the rate of spread of Ebola has been so fast that most health care workers, including the top doctors were caught totally off guard. Health care workers have been forced to treat Ebola patients without having any specific Ebola management training and the result has been catastrophic.  Almost all the initial group of health care workers who responded to the outbreak in Kailahun ended up paying the ultimate price.

The disease continues to decimate the population of health care workers in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. In the case a Liberia, a study revealed that about 184 health care workers had become affected since the time of the outbreak to the study period and about 50%  of those have died. It can be realistically assumed that Sierra Leone has similar figures.
Stephen Gaojia
Head of Sierra
Leone Emergency Operations Center

Now that Cuban, British, Chinese, German and other medical teams have become involved on the ground in Sierra Leone, it is my fervent hope that the Sierra Leone Ebola Emergency Operations Center will use some of the expatriate medical personnel to provide similar training to the country's health care workers so that they will be better able to manage the virus and protect themselves and their families in the process. 

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