November 26, 2015 By Regina Pratt
UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, Tuesday, 24 November, handed over district contact tracing monitors plus equipment to officials the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and World Health Organization (WHO) at their country office in Freetown.
In a statement, Dr. Ndyanabangi said UNFPA supported Ministry of Health and Sanitation through their leadership as contact tracing focal points, adding that they paid salaries to monitors and provided incentives to about 6,000 Ebola response workers, including contact tracers and supervisors.
He said the government of Sierra Leone had worked tirelessly to overcome the Ebola outbreak, culminating into the declaration by WHO on 7 November, as ‘Ebola free”.
“I wish to recognise and appreciate the financial support provided by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to the two projects for strengthening surveillance and contact tracing in all districts across the country,” he said, noting that through the Ebola response projects, UNFPA supported the recruitment, staff training, capacity building and coordinated contact tracing that monitored over 100,000 people.
He also handed over three brand new vehicles – two Prado and one hard top land cruiser – to the Ministry of Health to support the disease surveillance.
Also, 38 motorbikes had been handed over to the ministry for distribution to district health management teams.
The UNFPA country representative further said that some 1,417 Ebola Response Workers are in all the districts, and that they could be called upon whenever the need arises, adding that tracing monitors would remain in their post until March 2016.
He said the UNFPA remains committed and ready to support the government of Sierra Leone in similar life threatening situation in the future.
Speaking on behalf of the UNDP resident coordinator, Dr. Ndyanabangi said when the outbreak started there was collaboration, cooperation and synergy in supporting the government of Sierra Leone, adding that the UN would continue to give support through Rapid Response initiatives.
The WHO representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom, underscored the importance of the equipment handed over to the ministry, and urged that suspected cases should be investigated by contact tracers to establish the link between suspected case and those they may have come in contact with.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sarian Kamara, said UNFPA provided leadership in contact tracing involving 6,000 tracers, although the number has been reduced, thus urging the district contact tracing monitors to be vigilant and heighten surveillance across the country.
Donor Aid Coordinator for NERC, Dr. Sheku Sesay, thanked UNFPA for their role since the outbreak of Ebola, and establishing the contact tracing monitoring team but noted that UNFPA’s role in contact tracing in the country ended on 7 Novemeber.
He praised all UN agencies for their role in defeating the outbreak and expressed hope that the country would not have to battle another public health emergency.
The African Development Bank and World Bank had representatives at the handover ceremony, noted that government was now in a better position to respond to any future outbreak, while donations to the outbreak were channelled through UN agencies primarily for surveillance and contact tracing, respectively.