Monrovia, 25 February 2016 - Almost 8,500 Liberian health workers have been trained in delivering safe, quality care as part of a Ministry of Health program aimed at rebuilding trust in a health system that was devastated by the Ebola outbreak.
Starting in August 2015, the Ministry of Health, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, trained 58 “master trainers”, who in turn trained 461 trainers from 15 counties. They have trained almost 8,500 health workers including doctors, nurses and midwives in infection prevention, psychosocial care, surveillance and Ebola virus disease management. A shorter version of the training has been given to laboratory technicians, cleaners, janitors and vaccinators.
The Ebola epidemic had a devastating effect on Liberia’s health system, with many health workers anxious about returning to work due to fear of infection. The community became apprehensive about obtaining care from health facilities due to loss of trust in health-care providers. While health workers were trained during the outbreak in how to prevent and control infections, the end of Ebola transmission has highlighted the need for ongoing training to ensure lessons from the outbreak aren’t lost.
“Without Ebola, health-care workers became complacent about infection prevention,” said Dr. Catherine Cooper, Director of the Quality Management Unit in Liberia’s Ministry of Health. The training “seeks to make infection prevention and quality care a norm in health-care delivery, with or without Ebola.”
The Safe and Quality Services (SQS) training strives to build health-care workers’ confidence and ability to deliver quality health care through integrating standard precautions of infection prevention and control, emergency care, Ebola management, surveillance and psychosocial care into routine clinical services. The ultimate goal of the SQS training is to instill a safe and quality health-care delivery culture in Liberia.
“Safe and quality health-service delivery is a key component of Liberia’s investment plan for a resilient health system”, said Dr. Alex Gasasira, WHO’s representative in Liberia.
One of the SQS training objectives is to ensure that the knowledge and skills acquired are put into regular and effective practice through mentorship. The Ministry of Health, WHO and partners are developing a mentorship program that takes effect in the first quarter of 2016. So far, 300 potential mentors have been identified from trainees that excelled during the training.
“If you conduct classroom training and walk away, people go back to their old practices,” said Dr. Adolphus Yeah, a county health officer from Margibi County, and one of the trainers. “The training calls for attitude and behavioral change.” The process of mentor selection continues into 2016.
Partners implementing and supporting the program include: Mentor Initiative, Project Concern International, John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics, Medical Teams International, International Organization for Migration, International Medical Corps, Partners In Health (PIH), International Rescue Committee, American Refugee Committee, Concern worldwide,John Snow Inc, WAHA-GOAL, Save the Children ,Midwifery Training Program, Americares, Africa Humanitarian Action, Liberia National Red Cross, Médicins du Monde and Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia.
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