Liberia Marks End of Ebola Outbreak
GENEVA, Switzerland, May 12, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- After 42 days with no new Ebola cases reported in Liberia, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the end of the current outbreak. IOM commends at this important moment the people of Liberia, health workers, international partners and local leaders at the helm of the successful Ebola response efforts.
Acknowledging this landmark, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said: “I congratulate and thank all those who have contributed to this remarkable and ongoing success of defeating the scourge of Ebola – an achievement that highlights the ongoing need for partnership to strengthen health infrastructure durably and prevent any future outbreaks.”
At the request of the Liberian government, IOM with the support of US Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the larger outbreak response in October 2014 to increase treatment capacity in remote transmission hotspots, deploy trained health workers, actively find cases along county borders and mobilize communities to fight Ebola.
IOM has since partnered with Liberia's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through County Health Teams to manage and provide medical care at Ebola treatment units in Bomi, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount counties. Over 550 Liberian and foreign clinical and non-clinical staff trained by WHO treated patients, offered psychosocial support to families and mobilized communities to prevent Ebola or encourage people to seek early treatment.
As Liberia focuses on strengthening the health system and restoring health services, IOM is now supporting the national Health System Recovery Plan and continues to build local capacity to handle future outbreaks.
In the three counties, IOM is providing training in infection prevention and control (IPC) for health workers and ensuring that health units have the minimum capacity to safely screen, isolate and refer any cases by installing essential facilities for water, sanitation and hygiene, triage, isolation and IPC.
To restart health care delivery, IOM is running mobile clinics in the three counties at the request of the County Health Teams. The clinics offer primary health care and vaccinations to remote communities most affected by the epidemic and otherwise unable to access healthcare.
While the declared end of the outbreak is an important indicator, with the outbreak ongoing in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, Liberia remains vigilant prioritizing effective health screening at border crossing points and intensified surveillance within border communities. IOM continues to support border screening activities and training of border officials as a member of the multi-partner Border Coordination Group.
“While the country is now Ebola-free, IOM is committed to stay, build on established partnerships and support the country during this very sensitive recovery phase. Establishing and maintaining proper preparedness as well as supporting affected communities will be essential,” said Salvatore Sortino, IOM Liberia Chief of Mission.
Since the outbreak of Ebola in March 2014, Liberia reported 3,000 confirmed cases, 7,400 suspect or probable cases and over 4,700 deaths, including 189 health workers.