28 August 2014

New gear helps SOS Children’s Villages fight Ebola spread in Liberia

In the Liberian capital of Monrovia, where an already-struggling health sector has been devastated by the Ebola outbreak, the delivery of 100 full protection body suits for medical workers at the SOS Medical Centre is literally a gift of life.

28 August 2014 - Thanks to donations from SOS member associations in Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands, SOS Children’s Villages Liberia was able to purchase 100 new sets of full-body Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for its medical workers last week. The funds for the suits came from the Dutch SOS Children's Villages association SOS Kinderdorpen, SOS Children's Villages Luxembourg and Hermann Gmeiner Fonds Deutschland (HGFD) in Germany.
 
The equipment will primarily be used by medical workers at the SOS Medical Centre in Monrovia, which is the only health clinic in Monrovia still operating on a 24-hour basis, and one of the few medical facilities in the country still open to the public.
 
Liberia’s already struggling health sector has buckled under the strain of the Ebola outbreak, with many medical workers infected or not showing up for work for lack of adequate protective gear. The death toll from Ebola in the country has reached 624, according to the BBC.
 
The SOS Medical Centre does not treat Ebola patients, who must be redirected to dedicated Ebola clinics, but risks to staff interacting with potential Ebola victims remain high. The purchase of the 100 new PPE will therefore provide a measure of relief to these medical workers, while allowing the SOS clinic in to serve more patients.
 
Supplies boost medical staff morale

Full-body Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is necessary for health workers who come into daily contact with patients who may carry the Ebola virus. Photo: SOS Archives.

The Head Nurse of the clinic, Ms Evan-Lin Wonlue, said: “Anytime we receive supplies of these sorts of PPE materials I feel more confident to work. We are very grateful for this protective clothing. We are very grateful to SOS Luxembourg and HGFD for the continuous support since the very beginning of this outbreak of Ebola virus in Liberia.”

Ms Quendi Appleton, the clinic’s administrator, said all staff at the SOS Medical Centre were under  obligation to use the PPE materials consistently, as they interact daily with patients who may carry the virus.
 
A general shortage
 
In Liberia — where the death toll is rising fastest — the Ministry of Health warehouse has run out of rubber boots and bottles of hand sanitiser, essential for preventing the spread of the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
 
In addition, all the affected countries are beginning to suffer shortages of fuel, food and basic supplies after shipping companies and airlines suspended services to the region. The overall death toll, according to the BBC, is 1,427.
 
Measures at SOS facilities
 
According to Ms. Appleton, the following measures have been taken to prevent the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in all SOS facilities:
  • Sensitisation and awareness within the facility of the disease and how to stop its spread
  • Effective use of protective clothing and materials against the Ebola virus
  • Keeping track of any symptom of Ebola in every SOS facility in Liberia
  • Collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other health organisations on needed support and strategies to tackle or combat the virus
For more information about how SOS Children’s Villages is working to prevent the spread of Ebola, click here.