Gambia prepares health workers on Ebola


The Ministry of Health and the UN system, through the World Health Organisation on Friday organised a training as part of series of interventions to support the health ministry in implementing its Ebola disease preparedness and response plan.

The health workers were also trained on minimal initial service package for reproductive health, which is a set priority of activities to be implemented during the onset of an emergency (conflict or natural disaster).  The training was conducted by National Disaster Management Agency with support from UNFPA.

Addressing the trainees, Dawda Ceesay, deputy permanent secretary at the health ministry said: “The Gambia had made steady progress in the current epidemic preparedness and response. Ebola virus is one of the most virulent pathogens that kill a very high proportion of patients within 5 to 7 days. The virus is endemic in Central Africa, where it often causes fulminating haemorrhagic disease in humans. “Millions of people in the 15 Ecowas countries continue to be exposed to the risk of the Ebola haemorrhagic fever. The impact of these epidemic-prone diseases can be minimised by taking preventive measures and/or through strengthened surveillance and effective response. An epidemic in one country in our community can become a region-wide public health emergency. Epidemics such as Ebola require early warning and response mechanisms.”


On lessons learnt from the recent Ebola outbreak in the subregion, DPS Ceesay said: “Available information is under-utilised, even though it is often relevant and of great value. Information given out to the public to enhance surveillance and community-based collaboration is inadequate and published late, the lack of clear directives at all levels results in confusion at the moment the response effort is being launched.”

The WHO representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses, whose office coordinates the programme on behalf of the UN System said: “Ebola virus disease, formerly called Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever, is a life threatening disease that kills up to 9 out of 10 victims. Anybody can get it but those at risk are the ones who are in direct contact with Ebola patients such as you the health workers, families, carers and close contacts. Health workers during the course of treating and handling Ebola patients have themselves become victims. This is a serious development and a cause for concern. The rationale behind, the training, is to reduce those risks. It is mainly to prepare you to safely and effectively handle active as well as suspected Ebola virus by arming you with the weapons to do so.

“Through this united front, the UN is also mobilising more resources to support other areas of the plan such as cascading this training in all the health regions, social mobilisation and communication, infections control and provision of protective clothing.”

The executive director of National Disaster Management Agency, Alhagie Sanneh said: “As you know The Gambia is prone to multiple hazards. The reports say The Gambia is vulnerable to 24 different hazards including health related hazards; currently Ebola also remains one of the regional threats. In every disaster, it is the community that is most affected.

“Keeping in mind the issue… we feel obliged to coordinate closely with the Ministry of Health in implementing the MISP training programme. The programme has been the result of proper coordination, meetings and planning.”