Ebola update: Detection + Monitoring = Reduced infections.

The war to and end of this tumulus disease is not over. Even in Liberia, where it has been declared Ebola free, various stakeholders including the community take an active role in ensuring that the virus doesn’t spread.

Ebola has infected 27 305 civilians and health workers and buried 11 169 of those infected. It has further infected 10 people in Guinea and 14 in Sierra Leone in the 7 days to June 14th. Granted that the infection rate has decreased, but it is a result of the large enforcement of isolation points, and control measures communities take to curb the spread of the virus.

What Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have noted is travel increases vulnerability. And although travel is ongoing due to economical or various obligations, control points are set to monitor the entry and exits of the region.
In Liberia, the north western Lofa County shares borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone – this gives it high vulnerability to Ebola transmissions. It was in this county, that the virus surfaced through a Guinean traveller March of last year which brought the health of its civilians to its knees. Today, Lofa County receives traders, farmers, merchants and consumers on market days. And although there are 33 official border checkpoints, close to 300 areas are unofficial unmanned crossings.

With this knowledge, the Liberian government has developed an active surveillance and infection prevention action plan that control measures at Liberia’s borders and in border communities. Partnering with the World Health Organisation, the governments trains multitudes of health workers, security staff, county and district officials to engage in surveillance protocols and procedures that aim to boost cross border cooperation with the two other countries and increase health staff at checking points.

In Sierra Leone the International Migration Office (IOM) in the country activated the second phase of its Health and Humanitarian order Management project in Kambia District through holistically providing monitoring entry and exist health screening proves at the international border crossing with Guinea and Gbalamuya offering this service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All in all, these structures wouldn’t work without the involvement of the community. In Ebola free Liberia, it was through community outreach engaging in their volunteers and health workers playing the sensitization role in defeating the virus. According to WHO field coordinator Anthony Kergosien, community surveillance was key to containing Ebola during the state of emergency – and it is the same key that will keep it from returning. Through their own engagement in detecting the virus, and keeping to instructed best practices such as washing hands, safer burials and not keeping contact with Ebola patients, the remaining two countries will ultimately reach a zero infection rate.