Freetown, Nov. 2, 2015 (MOHS) – Senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, officials from WHO, DFID and the Commonwealth have concluded a four-day assessment tour in six districts to get first-hand knowledge on the level of preparedness of District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) ahead of the NERC/MOHS transition phase.
The six districts include Port Loko, Kambia, Bombali, Koinadugu, Tonkolili in the north and Kono in the east.
Addressing staff of the Koinadugu District Health Management Team, the Chief Medical Officer and Team Lead, Dr. Brima Kargbo commended staff for the hard work in the fight to contain the Ebola virus disease in their district, observing that lots have been done and encouraged them to do more.
The visit he said, aimed at reviewing district level preparedness for establishing and sustaining minimum standards in all health facilities.
Dr. Kargbo reiterated the need to ensure that all mainstream health facilities are capable of effective surveillance, triage screening, Infection Prevention and Control and case management of possible Ebola virus disease cases and safe provision of optimal care for all patients.
November 7, 2015 Dr. Kargbo said is expected to be declared Ebola free in Sierra Leone, and come December 31, 2015 NERC to hand over responsibilities to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, adding that the Ministry should be prepared to take full responsibility to improve the health care delivery services as against any future outbreak.
In developing a resilient health care delivery system, the Chief Medical Officer stressed that the destiny of the country lies in the hands of the Ministry of Health and appealed for team work to move the health system of the country forward. He called on the DHMT to identify gaps, and submit budget proposal to the Ministry for support.
In his presentation, WHO Clinical Lead, Tim Dempsey described the transition as very important noting that it moves the country’s health care delivery system forward for sustainable development.
He informed his audience that four special infectious disease units would be established at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, Kenema, Makeni and one in either Bo or Kono, stressing the need for safe isolation centre in every facilities to ensure they conduct case definition, patient referrals and Ebola testing.
The visit he said does not only focus in getting to zero, but to prepare them for any future outbreak of any infectious diseases, and urged them to develop clinical guidance on diagnosis and management of Ebola virus disease, and to also identify gaps tied with a budget proposal.
The District Medical Officer, Koinadugu, Dr. Francis Moses disclosed that their last case was in April 16, 2015 adding that they have not recorded any new case for over 194 days.
He enumerated surveillance, laboratory facility, contact tracing, isolation, case management, social mobilization, community engagement and survivor care as activities undertaken in the district.
In preparation for the transition, Dr. Moses said they have established Public Health Emergency Management Committee, District Disaster Management Committee, District Emergency Operation Centre and training among others.
In the area of gaps, the District Medical Officer advocated for more vehicles and ambulances, ambulance drivers, ambulance nurses/paramedics, isolation staff, screening and triage, data management and vehicle maintenance.
The Health Systems Specialist, Public Health/Surveillance, Commonwealth, Dr. James Akpablie commended the Koinadugu DHMT for the good presentation with cost for funding, and re-emphasized the need for surveillance and social mobilization and community engagement.
Dr. Akpablie appealed for effective border screening between Sierra Leone and Guinea as cases are coming from Guinea.
In Kambia , the District Medical Officer, Dr. Foday Sesay in his presentation disclosed high risk of Ebola virus disease importation from Forecariah in Guinea with active transmission.
He said they are currently conducting intensive surveillance in all chiefdoms with focus on border manning with 12 integrated teams.
In the area of transition and recovery, Dr. Sesay said they are working towards a smooth transition from DERC to DHMT with effective district epidemic preparedness and response system, adding that there is need to strengthen coordination of epidemic response, improve laboratory capacity for processing and testing of samples, effective management of suspected EVD cases and other epidemic prone diseases among other key issues.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo commended them for the hard work and urged them to continue the good work.
The Acting District Medical Officer, Koidu Government Hospital, Dr. Ronald Marsh in his presentation said on the level of preparedness, the Government hospital has eight isolation beds and Condama Community Health Post and Kayima Community Health Centre with two isolation beds each.
He said they have developed transition activities, District Incident Management Organogram, identified District Emergency Operation Centre membership and defined role and responsibilities for minimum standards among others.
Similar visits were held in Port Loko, Bombali and Tonkolili districts.