WHO supplies arrive in Guinea to support the Ebola outbreak response
When more than 3.5 tons of protection material arrived in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, on 30 March, WHO immediately started distributing it to health facilities in different locations dealing with outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
The supplies include single-use personal protection equipment, and disinfection and secure burial material. Half of the infected persons in Conakry are health workers. Providing them with adequate training and necessary equipment is crucial for infection control.
"With protection equipment we feel reassured and can do our job to help patients.”
Dr Lansana Kourouma, head of emergency section, Chinese-Guinean Friendship Hospital
The Ebola virus causes a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache, and diarrhoea and vomiting. Ebola virus disease outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90%. As there is no treatment or vaccine available, prevention is the most effective way to stop the transmission.
“These supplies are essential as we were not able to be in contact with sick persons who could have Ebola. With protection equipment we feel reassured and can do our job to help patients” says Dr Lansana Kourouma, head of emergency section of the Chinese-Guinean Friendship hospital where 5 patients are currently under observation.
The material was also sent to the Donka national teaching hospital in Conakry, where an isolation ward has been set up to provide care to infected persons. The ward is located in a separate building. The Institut Pasteur, Dakar, Senegal has dispatched technicians to the hospital so it can carry out on-site rapid testing.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, most of the cases have been reported in south-east Guinea. Contact tracing and follow up continues in these areas and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has set up isolation wards in Macenta and Gueckedou. MSF is also providing support to Kissidougou hospital.
WHO, the Ministry of Health, Guinea and partners are meeting on a daily basis within the National Crisis Committee to work on key aspects of the response: coordination, disease surveillance, clinical management, logistics and social mobilization.
“As soon as the outbreak was confirmed on March 21, we started to work with the Ministry of Health and other partners to implement necessary measures” says Dr. Rene Zitsamele-Coddy, WHO representative in Guinea ”It is the first time the country is facing an Ebola outbreak, so WHO expertise in the area is valuable.”
Public health messages are being disseminated to the population to avoid confusion and provide advice on how to avoid the infection.
WHO facilitated the deployment of a European Consortium Laboratory to Gueckedou to ensure access to laboratory testing of suspected cases and for supplementary testing. WHO also deployed an epidemiologist, logistician, anthropologist and infection control specialist to Gueckedou.
On 31 March, 19 of the suspected cases had been laboratory-confirmed by collaborating laboratories including the Institut Pasteur, Lyon, France, Institut Pasteur, Dakar, Senegal and Bernhard-Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany.
WHO has alerted countries bordering Guinea about the outbreak and advised them to heighten surveillance for illness consistent with a viral haemorrhagic fever, especially along land borders.
Both Sierra Leone and Liberia have reported suspected cases and deaths consistent with Ebola virus to WHO among people who had travelled to affected regions before symptom onset. Two cases from Liberia were tested positive.
The three countries are sharing information with each other and with WHO daily. WHO is also in contact in other neighbouring countries who are stepping up their surveillance system.
WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. Evidence from previous outbreaks shows that rapid response at the source of the outbreak is the best way to reduce the risk of the international spread of disease.