IOM Aids Mali with Ebola Checks on Travelers Entering Country

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, December 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM, in close collaboration with the Malian government's Emergency Operations Center and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), has set up a Flow Monitoring Point (FMP) in Kourémalé – the main point of entry between Mali and Guinea Conakry, to collect data on travelers and provide outreach to check the spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Mali.

Mali has been categorized by the WHO as a country at-risk, due to its long border and strong economic ties with Guinea, where the epidemic began. The first Ebola case in Mali was confirmed on October 23rd, when a two-year-old girl died after she traveled with her grandmother from Conakry to Kayes in eastern Mali, transiting through Kourémalé and Bamako. Since then, seven new cases have occurred from a separate chain of transmission, all related to an Imam from the Guinean side of Kourémalé, who died in Bamako.

The new FMP is located at the health checkpoint of Nougani – a village 10 km from Kourémalé. Six IOM staff trained by WHO on EVD response community awareness are supporting government health personnel to strengthen the surveillance mechanisms in place.

IOM staff are collecting data on a daily basis and sensitizing travelers on the risks of transmission and the EVD response structure in place in Mali.

A database has been created to facilitate the rapid identification of people who may have been in contact with EVD cases during their journey, and daily reports and maps of provenance and destination are produced.

From 21st to 30th November, 4,970 people (31 per cent women and 69 per cent men) were registered transiting through the FMP, with a daily average of 552 people. Up to 800 persons transit every day through the facility.

“The collection of data on travelers allows quick identification of any potential contact case who shared transportation with an EVD case,” said Bakary Doumbia, IOM Chief of Mission in Mali. “Outreach activities aim to improve the knowledge of hundreds of travelers each day, and inform them of the structures in place in Mali, in case they fall sick,” he added.

This 3-month pilot project is scheduled to continue through February 2015 and may be extended and expanded to other health checkpoints throughout the country.