Saturday, September 19, 2020 2:11 pm
In order to completely defeat Covid-19, Government of Sierra Leone comes up with Health Sector Preparedness and Response Programme. Here is how it works
Government has established National Covid-19 Emergency Response Centre NACOVERC, with five key strategic intervention policies-surveillance, isolation or quarantine, testing, clinical case management and risk communication and social mobilization for behavioral change. To ensure effectiveness of NACOVERC operations, government has placed emphasis on public accountability and transparency, along with full decentralization of its activities with the establishment of a District Covid-19 Emergency Response Centre DICOVERC, headed by district coordinators who collaborate with District Medical Officers DMOs.
NACOVERC ensures Strategic direction to DICOVERC to ensure command, control, coordination and communication of key objectives.
Implementation of the health sector response plan enable government to control the spread of covid-19 virus. Testing labs have increased from 3 to 5 across the country, with current lab capacity increased from 200 PRC test per day in March to over 478 PCR test per day in June. Beds are now available for every positive case, from 30 treatment beds in March to over 720 in June. Over 95 percent of all confirm cases have been safely isolated at hospital isolation or Community Treatment Centres CTCs or Community Care Centres CCCs. The country maintained a 70 – 80 percent recovery level as at early September. Today’s total infection rate is above 2,064, with recovery rate at 1,613, about 86.7 percent of infection rate, with death of 72.
Over 100 social and mental health workers have been trained on covid-19 awareness who are currently deployed to provide Psyco social support to covid victims and the general populace, through massive risk communication and social mobilization campaign in the use of face masks, social distancing and hygiene practices.
How we Manage and Fund NACOVERC
NACOVERC is managed pyramidal, with a Presidential Task Force PTF at the top of the pyramid, headed by HE President Bio, the Vice President and the Minister of Health. Operationally, it is headed by a military command structure, with Defence Minister, Brig (rtd) Kellie Conteh, supported by line military commanders, health and civilian support staff.
The Government of Sierra Leone bankrolls NACOVERC operations with 70 percent of its fundings, with the NACOVERC account domiciled at the Bank of Sierra Leone amounting to Le200 billion.
The country has received supports from UAE, China, Cuba, Lebanon and the World Bank in the covid fight. China, recently, sent in 7th round of donations, including over 10,000 test kits and other covid essentials, with more testing and case management Centres upgraded across the country. UAE supported the country with assorted medical equipment, with similar gestures by the World Bank, while Cuba and Lebanon sent in their medics toward the covid fight.
Quite recently, WHO has secured a grant from German Technical Cooperation GIZ of 500,000 Euro to increase testing capacity from 500 to 1000 tests per day
The grant is meant to procure urgently needed equipment for the diagnosis and confirmation of covid-19 tests in the country
The equipment include Polymerase Chain Reaction PCR test kits, Viral Isolation Kits VIK and Viral Transport Media VTM with swabs
Limited testing and low lab capacity are constraining factors in Sierra Leone, hence the timely intervention of the grant, says WHO Rep, Evans Liyosi Since the first case on 31 March, more than 2,069 cases have been reported, with about 1,622 recoveries about 80.1% and 72 deaths recorded
This support will boost the capacity of the health sector through upgrade of its lab infrastructure, recruitment and training of 30 lab scientists to support covid testing in multiple labs, including Lungi Int Airport
The support is in tandem with the national covid-19 response strategic plan, to fill existing gaps in the availability of kits to expand testing capacity, embedded among the 5 key national strategies to achieve the response objectives
About 16,000 tests have been conducted in Sierra Leone since the start of covid, with a positivity rate of 11 percent. Sierra Leone has 5 Molecular labs in Jui, Connaught, 34 Military Lab, Central Public Health Lab and Kenema Government Hospital The new health equipment will further improve government’s relatively impressive covid response strategies, particularly in areas of testing of infection cases and training of requisite health personnel in Sierra Leone.
International response is crucial for a global success in the fight against Covid-19 as it is a global pandemic. No country is self-sufficient in the fight. The developed countries worst hit are eagerly looking out for health assistance and bail outs. The timely international interventions in Sierra Leone’s health sector has bolstered the country’s capacity in the covid fight.