IHP chairperson experiencing appreciation

Published: 25 May 2015

The Foreign Medical Team (FMT) Coordinator of WHO was the first of several agency representatives to complement IHP for its response that enhanced the operational capability of and facilitated interventions by major Ebola responders.

The IHP Chairperson spent some busy days in Sierra Leone visiting the IHP projects around the country. All around, the appreciation of the flexibility and rapidness, being the signature of the IHP mission, was pointed out as being the reason for successful IHP support provided. The fact that the IHP Coordinator and IHP Team Leaders had the authority to make immediate decisions as well as having access to a variety of IHP resources was seen as the key reason for IHP being able adjust and modify the support to the changing nature of the demanding situation.

Mr. Les Roberts (The WHO FMT coordinator) gave the example that one day IHP was being tasked to provide training in the local language, Krio, and the very next day the language training began. IHP had overnight hired students to facilitate medical conversations in Krio with the medical staff. Furthermore, the immediate IHP response in cases where Cuban medical staff showed Ebola symptoms and had to be isolated in the IHP constructed isolation units was mentioned. All in all, IHP enabled the Cuban medical staff to get ready in time for the work of caring for patients and to keep themselves safe while doing so.

At the National Ebola Training Academy, Ms. Jasmine Riley (IOM Training Coordinator), demonstrated how they benefitted from the logistics support IHP is providing. This ensured that the trainers, over a six months period, could conduct training of some 8.500 health staff. The training including patient care, personal safety etc. in an IHP constructed mock-up of an Ebola Treatment Centre. As the response is moving into the post Ebola phase, IHP is supporting training of staff in non-Ebola health facilities, to ensure possible Ebola patients are isolated, tested, handled and referred according to the test result. This will reduce the risk of another Ebola epidemic. During the meeting with DFID, Ms. Jenifer Barugh, Head of the Ebola Crisis Unit appreciated the management of the supply and cold chain for the Ebola testing laboratories in the Treatment Centers. This resulted in important shortening of the time frames between drawing of a blood sample until the test had been confirmed. This does not only ensure early initiation of the right treatment of Ebola positive patients but also allows for discharge of Ebola negative patients.

In Waterloo, a one hour drive from the capital Freetown, Dr. Joseph Fobbie (Administrative Lead), presented some of the construction work, including improvements of the existing buildings. This work and the procurement of much needed equipment and materials as well as capacity building of the Sierra Leone staff have assisted to change the ADRA hospital into an Ebola Treatment Centre. The Centre is now ready to receive up to 62 patients. The nearby Police Training School has also been changed into an Ebola Treatment Centre. Dr. Kamara (Coordinator) showed how the IHP medical team improved the layout of the centre with relatively simple measures and small funds. These changes contributed to the improvement of medical procedures, such as patient documentation and the communication between staff in the clean area and staff in the contaminated area. This resulted in a safer and more efficient treatment of Ebola patients admitted to the Centre.

The IHP projects receiving the most attention are the two IHP base camps, accommodating up to a total of 168 Ebola responders. The base camps in Port Loko and Moyamba catered for staff from more than 40 different organizations for more than a total of 16.500 overnight stays. The responders were working in the nearby Ebola Treatment Centres, but also fighting Ebola in other nearby areas. The IHP Team leader, Susanne Kristensen, says: “A clean, refreshed and fed responder, who has been able to be in contact with colleagues and family, is not only more efficient in combatting Ebola, but is also keeping colleagues in the Ebola Treatment Centre safe".

Before his departure from Sierra Leone the The IHP Chairperson, Mr. Bruun, did pass on to the IHP staff the appreciation showed to IHP during his visits to the various projects, and he thanked the staff for their efforts. Mr. Bruun said: “it is the staff in the field that makes a successful IHP mission”. Mr. Bruun, explained that the flexible and rapid response is not only made possible due to the IHP decision making authority in country, but also as the eight IHP members are trusted long term partners. Furthermore, the interoperability of the resources and operational procedures makes enables joint deployments of support services in a timely fashion. Mr. Bruun concluded with saying: The IHP mission capitalizes on synergies amongst the IHP members which enables one mission, in an extremely short time - to expand into nine very diverse projects. There will always be things that we could have done differently, but the fight against Ebola was a challenge to everybody that was involved and I do believe that IHP did its part in a way that made a difference”.
Please also visit IHP photo gallery from the mission