FIifty-three frontline health workers from Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali yesterday emplaned to Guinea to help tackle the Ebola epidemic in that country.
Another batch of 29 workers, including Ghanaians, will be airlifted to Sierra Leone today, while 49 others will be deployed to Liberia tomorrow, December 5.
The volunteers, including 42 Ghanaians, have been trained and will be deployed to the Health ministries in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in a coordinated response effort to fight the disease.
The health workers, including doctors, nurses, epidemiologists and public health experts, were drawn from Ghana, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
Briefing journalists at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra where the first batch took off to Guinea, the consultant to the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Dr Jide Coker, explained that the workers were covered by health insurance of more than $1.5 million each in case of death, injury or any accident.
A code of conduct, as well as personal protective kits, he said, had also been distributed to the workers to guard and protect them in their activities.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 6,928 people have been killed by the Ebola virus, out of the more than 10,000 recorded cases.
About 325 health workers have also died since the outbreak.
Dr Coker indicated that the health workers would be expected to carry out activities such as identification of cases, contact tracing, case management, handling of corpses and strengthening of preventive measures, while revitalising the health system of the affected countries.
He said they were deployed after a week of intensive training in Accra by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), through WAHO and supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The training and deployment of health workers formed part of the regional response plan adopted by the last Assembly of ECOWAS Health ministers in August this year to provide substantial support in human resource to strengthen the health systems of the affected countries in their efforts to contain the epidemic.
To ensure effective communication among the workers and the beneficiaries, Dr Coker said the volunteers were deployed taking into consideration the languages they spoke.
On the duration of the engagement of the volunteers, Dr Coker said WAHO was hopeful that in the next three months the disease would have been reduced to enable the workers to return home.
“Return home safe”
The Head of Institutional Care at the Ghana Health Service, Mr Samuel Kaba, commended the volunteers for their courage, saying, “We are proud to mobilise our own people to help fight the disease.”
He advised them to adhere to all the precautionary measures and stay safe as they embarked on the journey, adding, “Return home safe.”
“You have all our support and the people of Africa are very proud of you for the courage. We are grateful and we hope that none of you will be infected by the disease,” he added.
Source: Graphic Online