International Medical Corps is deploying an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to Mali where the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported three deaths attributed to Ebola. Consisting of medical personnel and experts in water, sanitation, hygiene and logistics, the ERT will work rapidly to establish an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) to contain the spread of the disease. International Medical Corps is also on the ground in Sierra Leone and Liberia implementing ETUs that will provide access to treatment to 1.5 million people. In addition, the organization is urgently scaling up training programs throughout West Africa to equip frontline health care workers with the skills to stop the outbreak at its source.
“Having operated in Mali since early 2013, International Medical Corps is well placed to respond quickly and effectively to this deadly epidemic,” said Rabih Torbay, Senior Vice President of International Operations for International Medical Corps. “We are collaborating with local Ministry of Health authorities to identify potential sites for an ETU to provide lifesaving care to infected citizens. Together with Plan International, International Medical Corps is also developing a training program to help prepare local health workers in Mali to respond to a large-scale Ebola outbreak.”
Mali shares an 800 kilometer border with Guinea, where the first case of Ebola in the region was reported. The Malian government is in the process of tracing at least 250 people across four locations who have possibly had contact with Ebola victims. In addition to the ETU, International Medical Corps is working to establish a center in Bamako that will provide didactic and practical training for health care professionals and community members in the areas of infection control, contact tracing and case management.
International Medical Corps, which currently operates an ETU in Bong County, Liberia, plans to operate an additional three such ETUs in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The organization is working closely with WHO, the CDC, the responsible government authorities in both affected countries, the US and UK governments, donor agencies and partner organizations on the ETU design to make sure each meets all isolation, care and safety needs. Most of the staff—about 90%—are local health care workers trained in Ebola treatment and prevention.
International Medical Corps originally responded in Mali following the conflict in the north of the country where 3.3 million were in need of humanitarian assistance. The organization currently delivers programs in Mali in emergency health, nutrition, and women’s and children’s health and protection.