Sierra Leone Government committed to prevent frontline health workers from being infected with Ebola –Says Minister

Deputy Health and Sanitation Minister 1 (one), Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah has reiterated government’s commitment on infection prevention control measures for frontline health workers against the deadly Ebola virus disease.

Addressing a Post Training Planning Meeting for Hospital Matrons, District Health Sisters and Midwives across the country at the National Stadium Atlantic Hall in Freetown on Infection Prevention Control Measures for frontline health workers at high risk Ebola centers and the other districts in the country, Deputy Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah noted that the event organized by the Coalition of Health Associations is an essential move to compliment government’s effort in strengthening its frontline service providers against the deadly Ebola disease.

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He encouraged the nurses to continue executing their professional responsibilities collectively to defeat the Ebola war, adding that government and the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma recognizes their selfless services to the nation.

Dr. Fofanah observed that the lives of committed and dedicated frontline health workers were destroyed as a result of the Ebola outbreak while caring for their patients, and admonished them to take the necessary precautionary measures with regards infection prevention control in their various health facilities.

He dilated on the challenges face in addressing the current situation which he said calls for collective efforts with partners, to save life and care for each other, and re-emphasized the need for team work in the execution of their duties.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the Deputy Minister said has expressed its commitment to assist the government with two mobile laboratories and encouraged his audience to continue the good work.

Chief Nursing Officer, Matron Hossinatu Kanu disclosed that 32 nurses died since May 24, 2014 to August 13, 2014 while executing their duties within the ethics and code of practice of the nursing profession.

She described the nursing profession as the “largest” workforce in the ministry and in the fight against the disease, adding that the high death rate is a concern for her Directorate, the ministry and the government.

Matron Hossinatu Kanu observed that some nurses are now shying away from working at the treatment and isolation units due to the tragedy, and admonished them to work conscientiously with a view to protecting themselves from being infected.

She said though their efforts are not recognized by some communities but that their services are noted with appreciation by His Excellency the President and partners in the fight to contain the disease, hoping that the post training planning meeting would go a long way to build confidence in the execution of their duties.

The Executive Director, Health For All Coalition, Mr. Charles Mambu, the Communication Officer, Health Alert, the President Sierra Leone Nurses Association, Mr. Senesie Magao and the President of the Sierra Leone Health Services Workers Union, Abdul Kamara categorically advocated for adequate personal protective gears, and encouraging incentives for all frontline health workers including porters, cleaners, ambulance drivers, Nursing Aides and volunteers.

Other speakers include the Chairman of the West African College of Nursing Sierra Leone Chapter, Dr. Joan Shepherd, and the Chairperson for the occasion and Founder of Friends of Maternity Hospitals, Haja Daramy Kabia.

Highlights of the meeting included presentations on Infection Prevention Control structure, monitoring and supervision, counseling for exposed and infected nurses, psycho social support, and punctuality at work, among other key issues on the way forward.

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