Salone heightens Ebola Preparedness

Following recent announcement of a new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with 45 confirmed cases and 25 deaths, Sierra Leone has heightened preparedness in containing such in the country.

Facts are that Sierra Leone was the hardest hit of the three Mano River Union countries during the Ebola outbreak in 2014/16, which claimed the lives of about 4,000 people in the country with over 11,000 confirmed cases.

In light of the aforementioned, the Ministry of Health has instituted several measures to prevent another outbreak in Sierra Leone including heightened alert at border crossing points as well as all districts to look out for the signs and symptoms of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

Also, according to health ministry officials, it has enhanced surveillance for EVD and other Acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, such as Lassa fever and instituted mechanism to update preparedness and response plans at all levels for such fevers.

Furthermore, the ministry says it has instituted mechanism to sensitize health staff for timely detection and response, and to create the necessary public awareness for prevention.

Explaining about the virus, the ministry maintains that the EVD is potentially fatal but a preventable disease, while adding that it is usually transmitted to humans from wild animals but can also spread from person to person.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) is reported to have conducted a two-day simulation exercise in Freetown to test the armed forces preparedness in containing any Ebola outbreak in the country.

During the exercise, the medical unit of the RSLAF set up what they call a Rapid Deployable Isolation and Treatment Facility at Wilberforce Barracks, while nurses dressed in protective gears simulated the treatment of incoming patients using the Zmapp drug.

Professor Foday Shar, Surgeon General RSLAF Joint Medical Unit, said during the exercise that they wanted to ensure that doctors and nurses are competent in the use of Zmapp so that potential outbreaks could be contained as quickly as possible.

The RSLAF simulation exercise took place amidst WHO preparation to hold an Emergency Committee meeting to advice on the international response to the outbreak in DRC, and to decide whether it constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

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