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UNFPA, Gov’t & world partners strengthen contact tracing

OCTOBER 16, 2014 By Regina Pratt

The government of Sierra Leone, working with its development partners, including UNFPA and the World Bank, has designed and is implementing a project to strengthen existing surveillance system of ‘Ebola contact tracing’ in 10 high priority Ebola outbreak districts in the country.

Government has received a grant from the World Bank pursuant to an agreement and intends to remit $1,641,822 to UNFPA to provide technical assistance in the deployment of UNFPA staff in 10 districts, refresher training of chiefdom supervisors, training of data managers at district level, supervision, operational and technical support to contact tracing activities, monitoring of contact tracing activities at district and chiefdom levels, establish partnership with private sector and provide ICT equipment and upgrade Internet network in district offices.

The agreement was signed on 23 September 2014 in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, Financial Secretary Edmund Koroma, UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, and the Officer-in-Charge, Resource Mobilization Branch of UNFPA, Klaus Simoni Pedersen.

Present at the signing were the Resident Coordinator of the UN, Mr. David MacLachlan-Karr and heads of the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO), who also signed agreements and received World Bank funds from the government.

With the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, UNFPA initiated the ‘Kailahun Model of Contact Tracing’ nationwide in July to reduce and stop the transmission of the Ebola virus in the country.

The model serves as a mechanism to empower the community by equipping community health workers (CHWs) to focus on early detection of infected people who have come into contact with positive cases, and monitoring these contacts for 21 days.

To date, UNFPA has trained over 2,100 contact tracers and chiefdom supervisors and provided them with mobile phones connected to closed user group (CUG).