Sierra Leone Ebola survivors on paramedic training as nation goes on simulated high alert

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 June 2019:

Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES) leadership, yesterday Thursday 20th June 2019, ended a three-day training on ‘Paramedics and Leadership’ at their headquarters in Jui Junction, Freetown through funding from Project 1808 and other partners.

The training was geared towards preparedness for a possible resurgence of the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, as it is now the case in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The training included Infections Protection Control (IPC), Disease Surveillance, Psychosocial care, Leadership, Health Advocacy, and Time Management.

Sierra Leone recorded its first confirmed case of Ebola in May 2014. But nearly two years after – on the 17th March 2016, WHO declared the country Ebola-free. In between that period, the country recorded 14,124 total confirmed cases and 3,956 total confirmed deaths, according to data from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The training was facilitated by Dr. Alhaji Njai – founder of Project 1808, Lt. Col. Dr. Stephen Sevalie – Commanding Officer 34 Military Hospital, and Mr. Brima Abdulai Sheriff – former Commissioner of the Human Right Commission and Consultant Trainer in Human Rights, Advocacy and Leadership.

“Ebola can be crystallized. Scientists do crystallize it but such crystallization at the most part does not cause an outbreak,” said Dr. Njai’s in response to a question as to whether Ebola can be man-made.

He further intimated the Survivors that they are protected against the Zaire Ebola, but very unlikely they could be cross protected against other types of Ebola.

National President of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors, Yusuf Kabba, explained that the training is to certify his members as Paramedics and build their capacity, in order to help in tackling any future resurgence of Ebola.

He assured that they as leaders, upon undergoing such a training, will cascade same to the entire 4,000 membership of the association.

“We are really grateful for this training as it has equipped us a lot on health preparedness, health advocacy, surveillance, time management, and psychosocial care. And we will surely put it into practical use,” said Juliet Spencer who was one of the trainees.

This training is one of many programmes that Project 1808 has partnered with SLAES, which is geared towards building the capacity of Ebola survivors to fend for themselves.

In another though related development, Sierra Leone was put on a simulated Ebola high alert yesterday, when the country’s chief medical office issued a memo which went viral, announcing that there had been Ebola outbreak in the southern city of Bo and the capital Freetown.

Although this did not cause widespread panic on the streets, but on social media there was pandemonium, as Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora called home to seek clarification.

According to BBC Umaru Fofanah, the chief medical officer, “Dr Amara Jambai said that the press release on social media about an Ebola outbreak in the country is authentic, but it is for simulation exercise only, to gauge the country’s readiness in case of a real outbreak. He said it had been intended for internal use only but somehow went out. So there is no outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic fever in the country.”

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