FREETOWN, November 16 2017 --- At a handover ceremony today, the World Health Organization in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) donated 75 vehicles to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The vehicles, which include 18 cars and 57 motorbikes, will be used to support disease surveillance and response to outbreaks and other public health emergencies.
The surveillance vehicles as well as rain gear and helmets are being dispatched to the District Health Management Teams and to the national Emergency Operations Centre, and will facilitate the rapid deployment of Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) when there is need.
“Logistical equipment is a necessary component of a well-functioning surveillance system and we are grateful to WHO and partners for this kind donation,” said Dr. Brima Kargbo, Chief Medical Officer at the MoHS. “I’m confident that these vehicles will make a difference in terms of providing and getting the real information we need for timely outbreak detection and response.”
Following the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak, multi-disciplinary RRTs were established and trained nationally and in all districts to be deployed whenever there is a suspected outbreak or other public health emergency. The response teams consist of Surveillance Officers, Lab Technicians, Clinicians, Environmental Health experts, Social Mobilisation Officers, veterinarians and other responders, and undertake case investigations, sample collections, active case search and contact tracing, early treatment and referrals, and other response operations as required.
“With support from AfDB, WHO is pleased to be supporting the Ministry in creating a robust surveillance system that is able to quickly detect and immediately respond to potential outbreaks and other public health emergencies, whether this be a known or a new and emerging threat,” said Dr. Janet Kayita, Health Services Lead at WHO. “The Rapid Response Teams have a crucial part to play in safeguarding public health and these vehicles will provide important logistical support in this regard.”
Safety and rain gear have also been deployed as part of the package, which including the vehicles has a total monetary value of over USD 580,000.