UN Migration Agency, USAID Launch Disease Infection Prevention, Control Course in Sierra Leone
Freetown – IOM, the UN Migration Agency and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) earlier this month (05/10) established Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) courses for healthcare professionals at the University of Sierra Leone, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (CoMAHS) and Njala University.
During the 2014-2016, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, Sierra Leone recorded 14,124 infections and 3,956 EVD fatalities. Throughout the duration of the crisis, 436 healthcare workers died as a result of exposure to the virus – a significant loss to the healthcare workforce. Moreover, malaria, cholera, typhoid, STIs/HIV/AIDS, respiratory tract infections, Lassa fever, maternal and child mortality and multi-drug resistant TB remain ongoing battles.
The one- to two-week courses aim to ensure that all future healthcare professionals will receive context-relevant and government-approved training in IPC before they embark on their practical experience. The initial beneficiaries will include clinical and non-medical cadres.
Clinicians will be represented by 2,520 final-year students; doctors, nurses, midwives and laboratory technicians. Non-medical beneficiaries will be 3,960 paramedical units; pharmacists, public health, environment health, social scientists and teachers. Other trainees will include students in environmental sciences and animal sciences, as well as non-clinical cadres such as teachers and others working in the communication sectors.
“These 27 graduates will be torch-bearers of infection prevention and control as we introduce these new courses in the two universities,” said Sanusi Savage, IOM Head of Office.
This project contributes to the overall aims of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) and the President’s Health System Strengthening plan – improve maternal and child survival rates, maintain zero EVD and prevent, detect and respond to epidemics. This contribution has been made possible through the combined effort of IOM, MOHS, USAID, Infection Control Africa Network (ICAN) CoMAHS, Njala University and other partners.
In 2015-16, IOM delivered emergency IPC training across the country with the support of USAID. Sierra Leone is now in the recovery phase following the EVD outbreak. This is an opportune time to establish a system to strengthen the healthcare system. The establishment of these courses will equip every healthcare professional with standard and evidence-based tools to protect themselves, their patients and the community.