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Sierra Leone News: Infection, prevention control long forgotten

It’s almost 3 years since Sierra Leone was invaded by the deadly Ebola epidemic, which claimed the lives of over 4,000 and left a deep scar in the memory of Sierra Leoneans. At the end of the outbreak, there was a need to establish an IPC department in the health sector, and with support from the WHO and Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the IPC Department became operational at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in 2015. The department put down the line many public and private institutions, including schools, no longer observe hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers or proper infection control mechanisms. During the epidemic, international partners confirmed that the country’s health sector was very weak, especially in the observance and practice of Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC). Many institutions around Freetown, including the Youyi building and schools, it is clear that infection control has been forgotten. The Ministry of Health and Sanitation on the fourth floor of the Youyi building, continue to use hand sanitizer before entering the reception. Some private schools still endeavor to make use of the “veronica” bucket, with water and soap. A municipal primary school teacher explained why they don’t insist on hand washing. “It is as a result of the acute shortage of water in the city. We still have our buckets and some pupils are willing to go out and fetch water, but they spend a long time in the process and the school administration is scared about them not getting into mischief or hurt in the search of water.” Edward Briama, a visitor at one of the institutions, called on the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to raise awareness on the importance and usefulness of hand washing and IPC at all times. USAID in collaboration with Njala University, supported a $3 million USD grant in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation for clinicians and non-clinicians to improve and widen their knowledge on IPC.

AC/23/2/19

By Ade Campbell

Monday February 25, 2019.

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