She said the Ministry in reviewing its National Health Sector Strategic Plan and the Basic Package of Essential Health Services has included patient and Health Workers safety as the first pillar in the implementation of its priority activities.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, she reminded her audience accelerated efforts to strengthen health systems in Sierra Leone including the establishment of a National IPC Unit in the region, adding that it is now recognized that IPC is a universal vital component of a comprehensive approach to patient and health care workers safely.
The working landscape of emerging infectious diseases, she maintained, has necessitated increased awareness and attention to infection prevention and control practices.
Matron Koroma noted that a strong health system includes a culture and infection, prevention and control structures within governments and communities to respond and manage outbreaks and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
The government with technical support from WHO other health development partners including stakeholders she opined have set up IPC programmes in all public health care facilities countrywide, adding that IPC is also highlighted as one of the key priorities in the 10-24 months Presidential Recovery Priorities Plan.
She maintained that the Action Plan will be able to develop standard procedures for treatment including triage in IPC measures and patient transportation as well as raising medical institutional awareness, community behavioral practices and monitoring and evaluation.
The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer on behalf of the Ministry expressed gratitude and appreciation to WHO, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and other partners for the support to the Ministry’s IPC Unit on the development of the plan.
Making her contribution on behalf of the WHO Representative, the Medical Officer Tuberculosis, covering Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Dr. Cornelia Hennig said the essential frontline priority to control the Ebola outbreak helped minimize the risk of transmission of disease among health care workers, patients and the community.
She told her audience that the Ministry of Health IPC Unit has the mandate to oversee the implementation and strengthening of IPC standards and practices in all health facilities across the country, adding that the National Action Plan was developed as a means to foster the implementation of the 10-24 months Presidential Recovery Plan, as well as to provide direction for the new era of IPC programme in Sierra Leone.
Dr. Hennig reiterated WHO’s commitment to help tackle the burden of health care associated infection as well as reduce the transmission of infectious diseases both in health care facilities and the community.
Giving an overview of the IPC Action Plan, the National IPC Coordinator Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Madam Nana Sesay-Kamara described her unit as a structure in Sierra Leone health care practices breaking the chain of transmission and improves health workers safety.
She said they had limited knowledge on IPC practice during the outbreak that resulted to the loss of lives of health workers and other people in communities, but that with the support from partners they were able to contain the disease.
The composition of the IPC Plan include promotion of hand hygiene, aseptic procedures environmental cleaning and disinfection protection of patient and health care workers, community engagement, management of hospitals among others.
Madam Nana Sesay-Kamara also underscored the importance of monitoring IPC, institutionalization and In-service training and water and sanitation health care services and community ownership and accountability to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
She reiterated the need for coordination and collaboration of all partners towards achieving the priorities of the country and make Sierra Leone a better place.
Other highlights include contributions from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Representative, Mr. Hassan Benya and the Programme Manager National HIV/AIDS Programme and Chairman for the occasion, Dr. Satie Kanneh.
Photo: Credit Kadrie Koroma