TOPIC: Emergency Response, Education
The Ebola outbreak in Liberia began in the spring of 2014 and by June 2015 had claimed over 4800 lives. Tragically, many frontline health care workers (HCWs) were affected, with over 390 cases and 189 fatalities reported in Liberia. The Ebola outbreak severely strained Liberia’s healthcare system that was still improving post-war. Beginning in the fall of 2014, Dr. Michelle Niescierenko, working with the Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia (ACCEL) and the Liberian Post Graduate Medical Council (LPGMC) implemented an Emergency Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) training, mentorship, supply and quality improvement intervention to stop the spread of Ebola. The program acquired Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disseminated the gear to health care workers in Liberian governmental hospitals accompanied by training on proper use. The project’s core intervention was the development of teams of Liberian physician and nurse trainers who worked with midwives, water/sanitation technicians and psychosocial support/social mobilization providers to educate health care workers. The teams used the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare endorsed “Keep Safe, Keep Serving” training package to provide education about Ebola safety techniques for health care workers and patients. They also implemented elements of water/sanitation infrastructure improvement, community engagement and social mobilization. The ACCEL teams delivered the “Keep Safe, Keep Serving” training to over 2,800 health facility staff at Liberia’s 21 government hospitals. They imparted training, provided a 3-month supply of PPE, and conducted water and sanitation quality improvement projects, completing more than $221,000 in water and sanitation infrastructure improvements. Through these interventions the ACCEL emergency IPC teams were able to raise hospital safety scores from an unacceptable 56% to a positive 82% supporting the safe operation of Liberian hospitals during the Ebola Outbreak and beyond.