It was a regular Wednesday afternoon and everyone at the International Medical Corps office in Conakry was involved in...
Guinea’s political landscape has been largely turbulent over the last 50 years, suffering authoritarian rule, coups and a rebel movement along its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. The West African nation was identified as the likely source of the largest and deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. Guinea had more than 3,800 suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola cases—some 2,500 of which resulted in death, the highest fatality rate of the three highest transmission countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. International Medical Corps launched a response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea in February 2015. After 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths, the West Africa Ebola outbreak—the largest and deadliest in history—officially ended in late 2015 when Guinea was finally declared Ebola-free after two years of fighting the virus. International Medical Corps’ current prevention and surveillance activities and long-term behavior change programming aim to maintain a resilient zero Ebola cases.
Flare-ups of Ebola expected
Weak laboratory testing systems
More than 1,200 Ebola survivors need support
Building on its past experience running rapid response teams that are able to quickly contain a flare-up of Ebola and safely transporting patients to the nearest treatment unit, International Medical Corps is working with the ANSS (Agence National de Securite Sanitaire) in Guinea to set and train government health district response teams in 13 health districts in five regions, namely Kindia, Boké, Conakry, Farranah, and Nzerekoré. Additionally, International Medical Corps is training Ministry of Health personnel across the 13 districts, focusing on rapid response mechanisms and emergency operation centers to help them independently respond to emergencies.
International Medical Corps is working with the Ministry of Health in Guinea to support the community-based surveillance efforts in nine heath districts: Dixinn, Ratoma, Coyah, Dubreka, Kindia, Kissidougou, Gueckedou, Macenta, and Nzerekoré. More than 4,500 Community Health Workers (CHW) have been trained to recognize and report diseases with epidemic potential, focusing on measles, yellow fever, meningitis, acute flaccid paralysis (including polio), hemorrhagic fever and the nenonatal tetanus. We provide CHWs with bicycles, backpacks, cell phones and solar chargers so that they are equipped and able to travel to communities and report any suspected cases. We also support 91 health facilities across the nine districts, training health providers in disease surveillance and giving them basic tools to investigate and report any suspected outbreaks.
International Medical Corps is supporting a surveillance operational plan developed by the Guinean Ministry of Health. The project aims to strengthen specimen transport and referral processes with the long-term goal of developing a tiered, integrated laboratory network in Guinea. International Medical Corps is working to guarantee the safe collection and transport of specimens between health facilities and laboratories in Conakry, Coyah, Kindia, Dubreka, Boké, Kissidougou, Gueckedou, and Macenta. Our teams have conducted a comprehensive assessment of the laboratory network in these areas, which includes a review of current specimen collection, storage, security and transportation protocols and an examination of the overall quality of existing transportation methods between facilities. We also designed a system to ensure safe collection, packaging, storage and safe transport of specimens amongst the hierarchy of health facilities in Guinea.
With 3,807 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in Guinea, there are an estimated 1,274 survivors across the country. International Medical Corps facilitated access to health services for Ebola survivors and their families by providing financial support for medical expenses related to the lingering effects of the virus as well as a monthly stipend to cover basic needs. International Medical Corps also provided mental health and psychosocial support to survivors and their families. Our work with survivors will continue in three regions (Conakry, Kindia, Nzerekoré).