Ghana Assesses Ebola Preparedness at Points of Entry
IOM Ghana last month organized a one-day simulation exercise in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service at two land border points of entry — Elubo on the Ghana-Côte d'Ivoire border (14/12) and Aflao, on the Ghana-Togo border (16/12).
The purpose of the simulation exercise was to assess the impact of support provided by IOM on frontline officers' capacity to detect and handle potential cases of Ebola, as well as to identify areas that require further improvement.
The exercise was part of the Ebola (EVD) preparedness program IOM is currently implementing, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, to build screening and surveillance capacities at Ghana's borders.
The capacity building activities included providing training to border officials, donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and hygiene equipment, provision of computers and isolation units, and community outreach and mobilization in selected towns around selected border posts.
A debriefing session was held in Accra on 18 December 2015 with participation from UN partner agencies and government officials, including from the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Revenue Authority.
The simulation exercises revealed a high level of border staff dedication and professionalism. There was timely case detection and initial case management. PPEs and hygiene materials were readily available and there was good communication between staff from Port Health and from other agencies at the Points of Entry. The rapid response and intervention from Elubo was both timely and appropriate.
One of the main areas that needed improvement was Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) — which encompasses the ability of the port officials to handle disease suspects effectively without getting infected themselves or spreading the disease to other people.
It was recommended that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for IPC should be posted in visible locations to remind staff of procedures, and that regular IPC training, desktop and full scale simulation exercises should be conducted at all major Points of Entry in the country.
The IOM EVD preparedness programme receives funding from the Government of Japan and the Canadian Government through a UN joint programme.