By Hassan Bruz
Northern Bureau Chief
The much talked about and long awaited British constructed Ebola Treatment Centre in Port Loko is to commence effective operations. This was made public to members of the Port Loko District Taskforce and other key stakeholders by the Senior Manager –Fiona Gannon of GOAL Ireland , the Agency that is charged with the responsibility of manning the affairs of the Centre. She had earlier invited a galaxy of dignitaries to have a look at the facilities so far set up in ensuring that the battle against the Ebola virus is won without further delay.
THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION ALPHA KANU ( FAR RIGHT ) HAS OPENED THE FACILITY ON BEHALF OF PRESIDENT ERNEST KOROMA
The Team which comprised of the Senior District Officer- Mohamed Sheick Kargbo who is also the Chairman of the Ebola Taskforce in the District, the Chairman of the Port Loko District Council –Ahmid Munirr Fofana, Paramount Chief Alikali Mella of Maforki Chiefdo , the Port Loko District Coordinator for the Ebola Response Centre- Hon. Raymond Kabia, the District Medical Officer-Dr. Adikali Alpha Kamara and the UN Representative in the District for Disaster Management – Osman Kamara, was led on a conducted tour of the Centre by a cross section of the GOAL Staff. The Team was shown to the various stages a Patient is required to go through at the Centre, ranging from the very first step when he or she is received by a Health Officer and at least 2 Hygienists into the Green Zone, the Red Zone and to an admission Ward if it is an Ebola positive case.
The Port Loko Ebola Treatment Centre is a 100 Bed Capacity with a combined Staff of National and International Personnel. It has about 12 Medical Doctors plus a good number of Pharmacists, Nurses, and Paramedics. The Centre also has a fully equipped Laboratory that is being manned by 10 Scientists together with a team of about 80 Ancillary Staff such as crews, burial squads, cooks, guards and cleaners. There is also a team of psycho social experts that helps Patients as well as their families to cope with the mental stress of Ebola. It would also work with the various communities to help reduce the stigma around the virus and assist with the integration of Survivors back into the Local Population.
Speaking at a wrap up session of the visit, the Port Loko District Council Chairman–Ahmid Munirr Fofana on behalf of the people of the District, expressed thanks and appreciation to the British Government for providing them with such a Centre of International Standards . He said the absence of both a Treatment Centre and a Laboratory in the District used to leave them with the only compelling alternative of transporting Patients to either Kenema or Kailahun. He said most were unable to survive the long distance largely because of the fact that they have been taken too far away from their Localities. He said they were particularly impressed by the facility provided for relatives to be able to see and assess the situation of their Patients from a close distance. Similar sentiments were expressed by Paramount Chief Alikali Mella of Maforki Chiefdom who said, such an invaluable offer could not have come at a better time. The Paramount Chief said he was therefore optimistic that the People of Port Loko District in particular and Sierra Leone in general were now on the verge of winning the war against Ebola. He based his optimism on the perception that the mystery that used to be associated with the virus was now about to be replaced by the fact that Patients would from now on, receive treatment at the thresholds of their homes.
Jonathan Edgar is the Chief Operations Officer for Goal Ireland, while Else Kirk is serving as Country Director. According to the Media and Communications Officer at the Port Loko Treatment Centre- David Adams, the Management of GOAL is determined to make to ensure that the Centre is very welcoming, comfortable and none frightening at all and sundry, especially to Patients and their families. He said Patients will be taken to the Triage Tent upon arrival at the Centre, where they will be provided with water, or oral rehydration solutions if required. This will be followed by a brief interview with a Doctor and a Community Health officer through a glass screen and conveyed to the appropriate Ward. A blood test will be subsequently obtained from the Patent and will be taken to the Laboratory adding that the result is bound to be out within 5 hours.
While waiting for the result from the Laboratory, he said the Patient will be provided with appropriate treatment including anti sickness medication and any other essential thing. If the result is negative but the Patient still requires medical treatment, he or she will be taken to a Medical facility within the Centre. He said, the Patient will be at once returned home if the result is negative and the Patient is doing fine enough. It will however be a straight admission in a case wherein the result of the Patient is positive. He or she will continue to receive treatment on a 24 hour a day basis alongside psycho social support.
In the end, the Local Authorities prevailed on the Management of GOAL to name the newly constructed Centre after the village of Mathaska – the Community where the land of the site is situated. The once goal Treatment Centre will henceforth be named –the Mathaska Treatment Centre in Port Loko. You now have the opportunity to see some photos that would help you know what obtains out there…..