The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Armed Forces Joint Medical Unit on Thursday 25th July 2019, at the Sierra Leone Army’s Peace Mission Training Center (PMTC) in Hastings, conducted a simulation exercise in order to prepare health workers in the country in case of any serious medical outbreak.
Welcoming the participants, Colonel George Mohamed Bangura, the Commandant at PMTC, informed that the institution was established in the late 1980s and it was initially known as Hasting Camp but later transformed to an Infantry Training Center, Battle School for Western Area Brigade and now PMTC to meet the obligations and aspirations of the Government of Sierra Leone.
The vision of the PMTC is to gain international recognition for excellence in Post Security Operations training and education in emerging threats to security and applied research, Colonel George Mohamed Bangura stated.
He said during the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa it was the general outcry and a strong recommendation of the public health community that exercises of such nature should be conducted to ensure that the public health emergency response systems are intact.
In his statement, Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Stephen, Commanding Officer, Joint Medical Unit 34 Military Hospital disclosed that the Rapidly Deplorable Isolated and Training Center Facility was established in 2016 by RSLAF with support from the British with the main purpose of responding appropriately in case of any outbreak, especially Ebola, underscoring how the facility staff can be deployed within 72 hours in anywhere there is an outbreak in Sierra Leone. He stated that can uphold 36 cases and provide treatment without any external intervention for 36hours.
“The simulation exercise will strengthen collaboration, coordination and communication,” he stated furthering how the exercise will continue to help and prepare the capacities of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation staff and other partners for rapid responses.
Director of Health Security in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation said they are responsible to protect the people of this country health-wise saying with the help of donor partners they have lined up programs that they are about to implement all geared towards strengthening the health sector.
“When the Ebola epidemic started all cases were taken to Kenema and during that period the entire hospital was used as Emergency Treatment Center which posed high risks of transmission of the disease but now we are trying to change the narrative. We must also commend the Minister of Health and his team for continuously giving us all the necessary support we need to improve on our efficiency,” he noted.
In his statement, Deputy Defense Minister, Dr. Anthony Sandi, said the simulation exercises are part of the Post-Ebola contingency plan and the proper coordination and collaboration between the Military Joint Medical Unit and the Government has raised hopes for more success stories within the Health sector.
He thanked President Bio for the increased budgetary allocation to the Joint Medical Unit pointing out how such will facilitate the maintenance of hospital equipment and undertake other infrastructural improvements.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation explained that a simulation exercise is a form of practice, training, monitoring and evaluation of the capabilities of health workers and systems to handle any form of outbreak including an Ebola outbreak. “We want to use it as a means of preparedness and pre-planned storyline,” he highlighted.
He admonished the health workers to take the exercise serious pointing out how it is a test on whether we have ability in undertaking Surveillance, Risk Management, Distresses Assessment and Rapid Responses especially now that there is a Re-outbreak in Congo where the World Health Organization has declared a Health Emergency.
He went ahead to disclose that Lesser Fever used to be a predominant disease within the Kenema District but stressed that it has gone nationwide.
“So it is only when we prepare well that we can be at a vantage position to overcome whatever outbreak that occurs in Sierra Leone,” he admonished ending by thanking the US, Chinese and British Governments for their contributions to the health sector also appealing for such to continue.
Sergeant Dr. Foday Sesay, Site Manager of the Ebola Simulation Center stated that the exercises have helped them to be more prepared and learned new skills on how to apply Chlorine which is 0.5, more improved ways of using modernized technology like the Insertion Machine in preventing the Ebola virus to become more active.
Dr. Sesay added that most of those involved in the simulation exercise are medical personnel stating that some of them were with them during the Ebola outbreak adding that others are new staffs. “ We are doing all what is required to do in treating patients including the use of Thermometer , Donning, Doffing, Triage and emergency cases. We did all these in an advanced response manner as compared before when the expertise was absent,” he expressed optimism.
The simulation exercise will last for three days.