COVID-19: Strengthening Infection Prevention and Control Capacity in Mauritius

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A Training of Trainers on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Case Management post COVID-19 is being conducted from 12 to 16 October 2020 at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, Mauritius to strengthen capacity of health workers who are fighting COVID-19 at the forefront.

WHO has successfully mobilised additional funding through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), European Commission in view of supporting the Ministry in strengthening the IPC measures to prevent COVID-19 across community based, primary health care and educational institutions.

The training workshop was declared open by the Director Health Services, Dr Mariam Timol of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in the presence of technical officers of the Communication Diseases Control Unit and high officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius and the technical staff of the WHO country office and some 30 trainers.

Dr M. Timol, Director Health Services addressed the participants during the opening of the workshop and highlighted the proactive actions taken by Mauritius since the registration of the first cases in Wuhan to strengthen surveillance at the point of entry.

“The country has been successful in controlling the spread in the community and this would not have been possible without the dedicated support of all front-line health workers,” said Dr M. Timol.

“Think of your responsibilities in the coming days as the country opens its borders gradually,” said Dr M. Timol to the trainers which comprise specialists working in public health, public health nursing officers, surveillance officers, pharmacists, public health food and safety inspectors, among others from the main Island and from Rodrigues. The trainers will in turn facilitate the training of some 1370 health workers on IPC and COVID-19 Case Management.

“The Ministry would like to express its gratitude to WHO for the continuous support provided during the COVID-19 outbreak and by facilitating this training of trainers through implementation of the Canadian/European Union Project,” said Dr M. Timol.

Dr M. Timol pointed out that “Mauritius has been listed as one of the highest among the 13 high risk countries in the Africa region for COVID-19 infection. We are COVID-19 safe in Mauritius because of the effective measures taken by the country including sensitization, screening, strengthened surveillance at point of entry and strict travel bans, which halted the spread of COVID-19 since 26 April 2020”. The latter highlighted the rigorous contract tracing mechanism in place in Mauritius which permitted tracing of cases quickly for treatment. “However, the threat is still here, we need to stay vigilant,” added Dr M. Timol.

The threat posed to health workers by COVID-19 is more challenging. More than 40 Countries in Africa region reported infections among 10,000 health care workers (HCW), 10% of all cases globally are among health workers.

Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius during his speech, emphasized on the fact that 37 health care workers and other support staff, representing 9.3% of all cases as on October 2020 were infected. “The infection rate among health workers in Mauritius is very high,” said Dr L. Musango who highlighted the vulnerability of health care workers as the essential services resume. “You have to be very careful in case of resurgence of COVID-19,” advised the latter to the trainers.

“There is great need to reinforce the Infection Prevention Control Programme in the country. This training of trainers will enable us to achieve one of the strategic objectives of the Health Sector Strategic Plan which was launched recently,” emphasized Dr L. Musango

The training will be delivered in didactic virtual by Experts from the WHO Regional Office for Africa and regional IST-ESA and face to face session which will be facilitated by local resource persons.

Mauritius is promoting a culture of IPC in hospitals with the implementation of appropriate guidelines, an IPC committee has been set up at the level of the Ministry and all sanitary measures are being strictly observed in hospitals as well as at primary health care level.