To expand the pool of health workers capable of managing and working in ETUs across the region, International Medical Corps is providing high-quality training for local staff, other partners, and NGOs in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali where we have opened Ebola management training centers. International Medical Corps has developed a curriculum and a broad-based training strategy to meet critical staffing needs in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.
We are providing training through a Multi-Agency Training Collaborative which is located adjacent to our Bong County treatment unit in Liberia. Physicians and nurses coming into direct contact with Ebola patients receive up to 12 days training, while other essential skilled technical staff, such as logisticians and water and sanitation engineers, receive 7 to 10 days. Topics include management of an Ebola Treatment Unit; the use of personal protective equipment; safe patient transport; admission; triage; psychosocial support; quality assurance; infection control; case management for Ebola patients; and management of the dead. The training consists of three days of hands-on “cold” training and four days of “hot” training in the International Medical Corps - Bong ETU.
Nine survivor caregivers finished their training to work in the Ebola treatment centers in Sierra Leone. Survivor caregivers are essential to the treatment of children within the wards, as survivors are immune from Ebola and can go into the wards without PPE and provide physical contact which is comforting to the children in treatment.
To date, the Mali Emergency Response Team (ERT) has trained more than 550 medical personnel and more than 380 nonmedical personnel. These trainings include a didactic simulation on infection prevention control protocols, EVD case management, PPE usage, and psychosocial support. A training facility has been constructed in Bamako, the capital city, and should be operational mid-May.
Along with providing medical treatment, our team continues to play a key role in providing psychosocial support, counselling, and care to admitted EVD patients and their families at our Ebola Treatment Units. In addition, our psychosocial experts are reaching out to the local community to discuss Ebola myths and the importance of seeking medical attention if ill.
International Medical Corps is operating five Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) in West Africa—two in Liberia and three in Sierra Leone. The semi-permanent buildings include dressing rooms, morgue, burial site, decontamination, laundry, and treatment facilities. Safe transport to the unit is ensured by ambulance. The ETUs not only provide isolation and care for Ebola patients but also psychosocial support to patients, their support network, and those who have recovered from the disease. Most of the staff—about 90%—are local health care workers trained in Ebola treatment and prevention.
On September 15, International Medical Corps opened a 70-bed Ebola Treatment Unit in Bong County, Liberia, four hours north of Monrovia. The ETU has screened 510 people, 160 of whom have tested positive for Ebola. On November 22, International Medical Corps opened a second ETU in Margibi County, an area southwest of Bong with a population of close to 200,000. The ETU has screened 292 people, only 5 of whom have tested positive for Ebola.
To further ensure the international community can respond quickly and effectively to Ebola in Liberia, an International Medical Corps’ helicopter can be in the air in as little as one hour, transporting an entire mobile Ebola treatment unit and staff to an Ebola-affected area or transporting blood samples and Ebola patients out of the hot zone.
On December 1, International Medical Corps opened an ETU in Lunsar, Port Loko District, which had among the highest rates of Ebola in the country. The ETU is staffed by a mixture of international and national staff that were trained and equipped to work at the facility by International Medical Corps. Psychosocial counselors are providing counselling and care to admitted EVD patients and their families and working throughout the neighboring Ebola-effected communities. A second 50-bed treatment center, based on the same model as Lunsar, opened in mid-December 2014 in hard-hit Makeni, the country's fourth largest city. That treatment center is about 110 miles northeast of Freetown. We opened a new ETU in Kambia on April 15, 2015. The new ETU has so far screened 36 people, 8 of whom have tested positive for Ebola.
Our programming in Mali fills critical gaps in the Mali EVD response. Our program includes rapid response teams, which are able to deploy on short notice. Our mental health and psychosocial staff deploy with these teams to provide support to EVD patients’ families and increase their availability to social support and basic needs. The program is currently underway and staff who received exposure training are now training local health care workers on providing safe and effective management of Ebola Virus cases.
International Medical Corps is scaling up our response in Guinea, including supporting hospitals with screening and referral units, providing infection prevention and control training for local and international staff, and also establishing a Rapid Response Team to deploy to hot spots as needed. To familiarize communities with the SRUs, our psychosocial team is organizing meetings with community leaders to encourage the population to access local health facilities again.
To date, there have been no reported cases of EVD in Guinea‐Bissau, but because it borders Guinea, Guinea‐Bissau remains vulnerable to the West Africa EVD outbreak. Drawing upon our extensive experience in Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, International Medical Corps is focused on supporting infection prevention and control in health facilities, support for epidemiological surveillance in highly‐vulnerable border area, case management for suspect and confirmed cases, and community mobilization.