Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh has clarified that there is no case of Ebola in the country.
He said what has obtained is that the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and partners recently conducted a simulation to test the country’s resilience and preparedness to fight Ebola in case there is a reemergence of the disease.
He called on the public not to panic about Ebola being in Liberia, adding that there is no Ebola in the country at the moment.
The simulation was simultaneously performed in three of the 15 counties: Bong, Lofa, and Nimba, with mock cases of the Ebola Virus disease reported at separate health facilities in the three counties.
“Couple of days ago, we had a simulation exercise portraying EVD entering the country. And so what we were doing was basically testing our system to see how strong the system is, if we were to have anything like Ebola or other virus hemorrhagic fever,” Dr. Kateh said.
The simulation created panic amongst citizens and health workers in the three counties, with fears that the disease that killed almost 5,000 people in Liberia between 2014/2015 was once again in the country.
Dr. Kateh spoke with reporters Friday at the Phebe Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County, following a debriefing meeting to discuss the simulation exercises across the three counties.The gathering comprised of health workers as well as local and national partners working in Liberia’s health sector.
Dr. Kateh said he graded the overall result of the simulation as “F” because there were a lot of lapses on the part of health workers who handled the mock Ebola cases in the simulation counties.
“There were lot of things that we anticipated to have happened with the resources that have been placed into the health sector. There was lot of missteps at various areas.” He said.However, according to Dr. Kateh, Lofa County outperformed the other counties in the simulation exercise.
Considering the overall result of the exercise, the Chief Medical Officer said the Ministry of Health and partners will do refresher training on how to respond to Ebola and diseases for health workers across the country.
The three counties, in their different presentations at the gathering, shared lack of essential drugs, personal protective equipment (PPE), limited or lack of ambulance services amongst others, as some of the challenges deluging the health sector in the counties.
Health authorities in the three counties are however, recommending to government through the health ministry to provide the needed materials with urgency that would enhance the timely and effective delivery of health services to Liberians.
The county Health Officer of Bong, Dr. Adolphus Yeiah, underscored Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) as an important practice for health workers.
Dr. Yeiah said the simulation showed that most health workers are slightly forgetting the basic IPC procedures, nothing that the Bong County Health Team will do a refresher training for the health workers at various health facilities and hospitals in the county.
He said the simulation is important to help people “wake up and practice the right things” in infection prevention and control amongst health workers and citizens.
Asked about Bong’s second place position in the simulation, Dr. Yeiah said: “So, if our central people observed that we didn’t do right, yes, we accept it. It is not like they are trying to blame us, but they are trying to help us to wake up and practice the right thing.”
He called on citizens and residents in Bong to be calm and accept that there is no case of Ebola in the county.
Liberia recorded its first case of Ebola in March, 2014, in Lofa County.
Between 2014 and 2015, there were more than 10,500 cases of the disease reported in Liberia, causing nearly 5,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Cumulatively, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea recorded 28,500 cases.
By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong County, edited by Othello B. Garblah