IOM Fights Ebola In Liberia Hotspots
“Working with the health system to bring in cases quicker and bring care closer is the final piece of Ebola control, in addition to social mobilization”
Since the beginning of November, new and confirmed cases of Ebola have been declining in Liberia, with 10-20 cases reported daily. But Grand Bassa County remains a transmission hotspot. In the first half of November, Buchanan’s district recorded 17 new cases, including two health workers.
Many residents are still reluctant to report suspected cases and to hand over bodies to safe burial teams. Treatment facilities have also been hard to access by county health teams, with all cases transferred to treatment units in the national capital, Monrovia.
On Friday (21/11) IOM took delivery of Buchanan’s first Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) from the US Department of Defence. The facility will be run IOM international and local staff currently being trained by WHO and Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. It is equipped to receive and treat up to 50 patients and will likely begin receiving transfers and suspected cases in the first week of December.
IOM is also training social workers to educate communities about the importance of seeking early treatment at ETUs, according to IOM Liberia project coordinator Andrew Lind. “Demystifying the ETU and helping the community to accept it, as well as other measures to prevent further infections, is still very challenging,” he said.
The Buchanan ETU is the second opened by IOM in Liberia and is one of three facilities planned for Bomi, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount counties.
The first was opened a week ago in Tubmanburg in Bomi county and has already received seven patients, with four brought in by IOM ambulance. Two have since been sent home with a survivor kit, including clothes, food and non-food aid items. One died. One patient was referred to the county hospital for treatment. A team of 22 foreign medical workers and 138 national staff are running the unit.
The third ETU will open shortly in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount country, with the capacity to serve up to 50 patients.
“Working with the health system to bring in cases quicker and bring care closer is the final piece of Ebola control, in addition to social mobilization,” said Buchanan ETU Team Leader Brian Hoyers, a staffer at US NGO AmeriCares, seconded to IOM.
The three IOM-managed ETUs have all been built by the US Department of Defense, with the support of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
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