|Save the Children Opens Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone|
|Prospective health-care workers in the Kerry Town Ebola Treatment Center test decontamination procedures in Sierra Leone. Photo by Louis Leeson/Save the Children
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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Nov. 4, 2014) — Save the Children is opening its first specialist Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Sierra Leone, as part of its wider fight to treat and stop the spread of Ebola.
Located in Kerry Town, 40 kilometers outside the capital Freetown, the 80-bed facility provides diagnosis and treatment to infected patients, while ensuring that children receive the care and protection they so desperately need. The center will increase local capacity to rapidly assess and hospitalize patients, while helping to reduce the risk of further infecting friends and relatives at home.
"Sierra Leone, which has seen the number of new Ebola cases rise for six consecutive weeks, is one of the countries in the region most gravely affected by Ebola, leaving its population and health-care system completely overwhelmed," said Rob MacGillivray, country director for Save the Children in Sierra Leone. "This treatment center will help with the early diagnosis of those infected with Ebola, increasing their chances of survival."
The Ebola Treatment Unit will have more than 200 frontline medical staff, including a contingent of Cuban doctors, with around 50 on shift at any one time. A further 50-70 non-clinical support staff and more than 100 hygienists will also be based at the Kerry Town site, with 100 to 120 staff working at the center at any given time. In addition, the center will house a small separate clinic run by the UK Ministry of Defense to treat both Sierra Leonean and international health workers, should they become infected with the virus.
"Our new Ebola Treatment Unit is critically needed to help protect the wider community from further infection – including thousands of children, who stand to lose the most as a result of this unprecedented deadly outbreak," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "Now is the time for us to work together to get this epidemic under control."
"We hope that offering a separate wing for staff treatment will restore the confidence of health workers previously reluctant to join the fight against Ebola – particularly when thousands of doctors, nurses and other medical staff are still desperately needed in the region to help save lives and prevent the disease from gaining any more ground," said MacGillivray.
Patients arriving at the treatment center will be triaged by staff wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), who will take blood samples and immediately send them to the onsite lab for testing, with results expected within a matter of hours. If patients test positive for Ebola, they will be sent to one of three wards, based on the severity of their symptoms: one for mild cases, another for severe cases, and one for emergency cases.
"While this treatment center is a significant step in the right direction in treating those affected by Ebola and slowing down its spread, if the virus is to be contained, the international community must step up its efforts in the coming weeks by allocating more funds and medical personnel," added McGillivray.
The Kerry Town Ebola treatment center was built in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), the Ministry of Defence and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health.
In September, Save the Children opened a 70-bed Ebola treatment unit in Bong country, Liberia, which is being run by the International Medical Corps (IMC) – and is set to open a second treatment unit in Margibi County later this year. It will also open the first of 10 Community Care Centers in Liberia next week, which are smaller, community-led facilities designed to isolate and treat Ebola patients within their towns and villages.
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Notes to editors:
- So far, Sierra Leone is the second worst-affected country by the Ebola crisis in West Africa, with more than 3,715 confirmed cases and over 1,049 deaths to date.
- According to the WHO, a total of 521 health-care workers are known to have been infected with the Ebola virus; more than half (272) have died.
- Save the Children is rapidly scaling up its response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. In Sierra Leone, its teams are running street awareness campaigns; training teachers, health workers and local organizations on prevention measures; distributing essential medical equipment and protective kits to health facilities; providing psychosocial support to help survivors come to terms with their experiences; working with unaccompanied children and orphans to find them foster parents and safe houses.
- Save the Children has created a petition urging G20 members to step up the fight against Ebola now, to ensure there is enough money, people and equipment to defeat the disease: www.savethechildren.net/ebola
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