SPREAD THE WORD, NOT THE VIRUS
To help West African communities fight the Ebola virus, IOM is producing a set of comics in local languages. The first in Liberian pidgin dialect explains in easy-to-understand panels how communities should react if faced with an Ebola infection.
Liberia - Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai yesterday (10/11) inaugurated the first of three planned IOM-managed Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) in Liberia. The new unit, in Tubmanburg, was constructed by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), with the support and oversight of the US Department of Defense.
It will be run by 24 internationally recruited IOM health professionals from countries including Russia, the US, New Zealand, UK, Kenya, Eritrea, Romania and Ireland. Some 100 Liberians have also been recruited to work at the ETU, which is in Bomi County, northwest of Liberia's capital, Monrovia.
Speaking at the inauguration, Vice President Boakai thanked Liberia’s international partners for their efforts and said that he believed that Ebola will eventually be driven out of his country.
The three US government-funded ETUs will be operated by IOM in close partnership and under the supervision of Liberia's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW). USAID's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance is supporting IOM's efforts to manage the ETU and provide clinical care.
US Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac said: "This is an emblem of a long and deep partnership the US and Liberia have experienced for many years. We have got good news, but we should not let down our guard. We must renew our commitment to continue (correct) practices to protect our families, communities and Liberia."
The ETU in Tubmanburg will open with 10 beds and has a capacity to scale up to 100. It is set to offer full clinical care to Ebola patients in Bomi County as part of Liberia’s wider Ebola response system.
In total, Liberia expects to eventually have 17 new ETUs as part of the government’s national Ebola response strategy, led by the MOHSW.
There have been 6,525 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of Ebola in Liberia since late March. Through the end of October, 2,697 deaths have been attributed to the disease. Health care workers in the country have been particularly affected, with 315 reported cases and 157 deaths since the start of the crisis.
To minimize the risk of infection, all the health workers at the Tubmanburg ETU have undergone intensive training. This included a week of classroom training in the capital, Monrovia and on-the-job training in one of two existing ETUs – either in Foja in the north of the country, in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières, or in Bong in Central-South Liberia with the International Medical Corps.
A team of 24, mostly American, health workers have also completed their first phase of training for deployment in the next ETU, which will open in the city of Buchanan later this month. The third facility is expected to open in the city of Sinje in early December.
Besides staff recruitment, training and operating the ETUs, IOM will also handle logistics, including the supply of fuel, drinking water and security.
"IOM is proud to support the Government of Liberia in this critical response to Ebola. We look forward to working with the affected communities and are confident that these facilities will contribute to defeating Ebola," said IOM Liberia Chief of Mission Salvatore Sortino.
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