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MSF folds up in Kailahun

February 20, 2015 By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

Medecin San Frontiers (MSF) has ceased operations in Kailahun, closing down the only Ebola Treatment Center in the Eastern District.

More than 400 local staff working at the Center have been laid off with their full benefits paid.

This comes as Kailahun goes past 67 days now without registering any Ebola confirmed case. The district had been the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, recording more than 500 official deaths alone.

MSF intervened in the district in the peak of the outbreak in June 2014.

However, the Doctors Without Borders are leaving behind a stand-by isolation unit at the Kailahun Government Hospital compound.

According to MSF Project Coordinator, Judith Hetellier, the unit will be equipped to handle all infectious diseases (TB, HIV, leprosy, etc), not just Ebola.

The structure consists of a triage, laboratory, administrative office, kitchen and two toilets facilities.

Health officials say they would treat all cases as Ebola until proven otherwise. In the event a patient proves positive he/she will be sent to the treatment center in Kenema or Bo.

The structure will be officially handed over to the people of Kailahun through the District Health Management Team (DHMT) today, Friday 20th February.

However, the hospital is faced with challenges of water and power supply.

Several meters away is the office of SEND Foundation Sierra Leone (Social Enterprise Development), an organization hospital officials describe as a friend indeed.

Through funds from Zochonis Charitable Trust, SEND Foundation Sierra Leone constructed a water well and two submersive water pumps in the hospital’s compound. The submersive pumps use electricity to supply water to the main tank of more than 20,000 liters capacity, which in turn distributes to the various hospital units.

However, the solar power, also provided by SEND Foundation Sierra Leone with funds from the European Union and Christian Aid, which is supposed to power the submersive pumps, has stopped working. A hospital official said its meter blew off and has not been replaced.

For the time being the organization has facilitated connection to the community’s water system, in addition to providing water tanks to supply the maternity and children’s wards, and repaired pipes, toilet seats and wash hand basins.

The hospital secretary, Foday K. Momoh, said before the intervention of SEND Foundation Sierra Leone, the hospital depended on hand pump water wells but they get dry frequently.

Meanwhile, Hetellier said MSF is proud to have been part of the fight against Ebola in Kailahun District.

“The case management responsibility will now be that of the DHMT, but we will keep a close eye on the district thereafter,” said Hetellier.

The Resident Minister East, Maya Kaikai, hailed the contribution of MSF to the rescue of Kailahun District from the Ebola scourge. He said MSF has assured him that they would send an assessment team to evaluate the district’s post-Ebola needs and report back to their head office.

“The government is very grateful to MSF for their intervention in the Ebola crisis in the entire country, not just in Kailahun,” said Kaikai, adding that there is still more work to be done to ensure the whole country and, hopefully, the sub-region is free of Ebola.

More than 3,000 people have been killed by Ebola in Sierra Leone alone.

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