IOM Opens Ebola Treatment Unit In Grand Cape Mount, Liberia


Published Date: 
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Sandra Tumwesigye

On Monday (29/12) IOM opened the first Ebola treatment unit (ETU) in Sinje, Liberia. The ETU brings clinical care closer to Ebola patients in Grand Cape Mount County, where active transmission persists in hotspots such as Tewor, Porkpa and Gola Konneh districts. This treatment facility is one of three USAID-supported Ebola treatment units managed by IOM including others in Tubmanburg, Bomi County and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

“Today marks a milestone in a long journey we have undertaken to bring Ebola to an end in Grand Cape Mount. It has been a great challenge convincing people to allow us to take their patients to other counties, however today we are opening our own ETU,” said Dr Loraine Cooper, the County Health Officer.

“As we continue the fight against Ebola, creating confidence is a very important part. This [ETU] is giving the assurance that our people will now have treatment here in Grand Cape Mount County,” added Hon. Mohamed Passawee, the Grand Cape Mount County Superintendent.

The new treatment facility opens with 10 beds and the capacity to rapidly scale up to 50. USAID’s Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance is supporting IOM to operate the ETU in partnership with Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) as part of the Government of Liberia’s Ebola response strategy.

“It is because of these partnerships that we are seeing real impact and signs of progress in this response” Courtney Blake, the Deputy Team Leader for the Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team noted.

“Our job at the Ministry of Health is to stop Ebola and today you can see the commitment and partnership. We want to thank the US government for funding the ETU and appreciate IOM for taking up operation,” said Hon. Tolbert Nyenswah the Deputy Minister of Health.

The treatment unit in Sinje will be run by 23 medical professionals from Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Ukraine. IOM also recruited and trained 114 Liberians from Grand Cape Mount County to offer clinical and non-clinical care within the facility. The staff received training from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the MOHSW, including hands-on training at the IOM-managed ETU in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.

“It is clear how important it is to have the ETU in Grand Cape Mount County and how mobility is linked to the outbreak. Thanks to our partnerships and the support of USAID we are able to celebrate this milestone. IOM stands ready to support the County Health Team in its outbreak response,” said Salvatore Sortino, IOM Liberia Chief of Mission.

Since its opening in November, the IOM-run ETU in Tubmanburg has received 11 confirmed cases from Grand Cape Mount County. Active surveillance by the Grand Cape Mount County Health Team also continues in hotspot districts where new Ebola cases are still reported. As such, the ambulance service at the Sinje ETU will support the case investigation and referral efforts of the County Health Team by swiftly transporting, isolating and treating identified Ebola cases.

IOM also operates an Ebola treatment unit in Liberia’s second largest city, Buchanan. This ETU is part of the Grand Bassa County efforts to strengthen Ebola case management system within the county and to achieve the goal of no new cases.

The number of new Ebola cases in Liberia has been steadily decreasing since mid-November, with no new cases reported in some counties over the past 21 days. However active transmission continues in some parts of the country with outbreak hotspots. IOM is partnering with the Government of Liberia to eradicate Ebola in hotspot areas such as the identified districts in Grand Cape Mount.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, there have been a total of 3,384 deaths in Liberia.

 

For more information, please contact: Sandra Tumwesigye, Public Information Officer, IOM Liberia

Tel: +231 (0) 88 620 2758;  Email: stumwesigye@iom.int

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