Millennium Promise Team to Join Battle Against Ebola

by |September 29, 2014

Locally based community health workers, who bring vital primary health care to underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa, will join the battle against the deadly Ebola virus through a partnership between the government of Guinea and The Earth Institute.

The use of smartphones by community health workers will be a key component of tracking Ebola cases. Photo: One Million Community Health Workers Campaign.

The use of smartphones by community health workers will be a key component of tracking Ebola cases. Photo: One Million Community Health Workers Campaign.

Under an agreement announced last week, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University will lead a team at the NGO Millennium Promise to support the Government of Guinea in its rapid Ebola response. Millennium Promise has pioneered the introduction of community health care workers backed by advanced broadband technology in the Millennium Villages Project.

The work, which begins immediately, will focus on four core activities:

  • The rapid design and implementation of a real-time, national-scale informatics system. Based on the use of smartphones by community health workers, the system will help Guinea track Ebola cases and trace contacts of infected people to help control the spread of the disease.
  • The deployment of thousands of community health workers specially trained to support communities impacted by Ebola, including case detection, contact tracking, community information and awareness, and other functions;
  • Strategic planning, costing and implementation design for the rapid scale-up of all facets of epidemic control: surveillance, case detection, treatment, contact tracking, behavioral change, training and upgrading facilities, and others.
  • Promotion of global collaboration by international organizations and the business sector that is highly responsive and targeted to Guinea’s urgent needs.

“To catch up with and beat Ebola, we need to substantially scale up our response,” said Guinean President Alpha M. Condé. “The immediate deployment of community health workers trained and equipped through an initiative of Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University will accelerate and strengthen our national response to Ebola, as well as structure a response at the level of our local communities, who will be empowered to fight back and understand how to contain [such] diseases.”

Other partners will include the telecommunications company Ericsson, a long-standing partner of the Millennium Villages Project. The organizations will work closely with UNICEF and other UN agencies under the auspices of the UN Mission on Ebola.

Ebola viral disease is a severe, often fatal illness that is transmitted by direct contact with blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. As of Sept. 23, 6,574 people were believed to have contracted the disease in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization, though that number is widely believed to be underestimated. WHO has traced the outbreak to December 2013.

More than 1,000 cases have been reported in Guinea, with others in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal — the biggest outbreak of the disease on record.

community health workers, Millennium Promise

Community health workers are often trusted members of their community, allowing them to play a key role in disseminating accurate information about Ebola and counsel on protective methods. Photo: Millennium Promise

Controlling the outbreak requires identifying infected people and suspected cases before they can expose other people. This requires identifying all people who may have been exposed to a person with Ebola and checking for signs of illness every day for 21 days – the maximum number of days of Ebola’s incubation period. Those who begin to develop Ebola symptoms should then be isolated to avoid further transmission.

Community health workers are often trusted members of their community, allowing them to play a key role in disseminating accurate information about Ebola and counsel on protective methods. That would include instructions on proper burial method (60 percent of the Ebola cases in Guinea have been traced to traditional burial practices), the urgency of going to a treatment center if symptoms emerge, early detection of symptoms among community members, and basic infection control measures.

As Guinea moves beyond the epidemic, community health worker responsibilities will shift to strengthening essential primary health services. This will include work on: surveillance of danger signs and referrals; healthy behavior counseling around nutrition, sanitation, and bed-net usage; curative care for diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia; and counseling of pregnant women around antenatal care visits, postnatal care visits, institutional delivery and healthy pregnancy.

These responsibilities reflect significant evidence around community health workers’ effectiveness in reducing morbidity and mortality through preventive and curative services at the community level. This platform of local health workers will help strengthen primary health care systems to avoid future health crises.

The Earth Institute will serve as technical advisor to build the Community-Based Ebola Response Program. This will include design and building of the initial community health worker materials and mobile software, and training of local trainers to set up and manage deployment. Earth Institute technical advisors will monitor and advise on deployment and initial management of the system.

UNICEF Guinea is currently funding 1,000 community health workers in the Nzérékoré Region. These will be the first set of health workers that will be leveraged in the Community-based Ebola Response.

Ericsson will be procuring smartphones for the health workers and serve a key role in negotiating data, SMS, and voice packages with local telecommunications operations. Ericsson will also provide software such as mobile surveys and content hubs for low bandwidth usage. Ericsson will also support the development of a mobile wallet system to increase timeliness and efficiency of community health worker payment, and will contribute to the software development of user-friendly dashboards for local management teams.


One thought on “Millennium Promise Team to Join Battle Against Ebola

  1. OB Roy says:

    I am a UK citizen working on a voluntary basis with local ngos in liberia to support them in developing Ebola Awareness Campaigns to reach more isolated communities in the counties. We have prepared with FELS a campaign to reach 48,000 people in Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County.  I am working with BUPOTRA to develop a similar campaign to reach 56 communities in a further 8 counties.  As you are no doubt aware, needs assessments, planning and proposal preparation are severely hampered by transport, food, lodging restrictions,  power cuts and computer / internet availability.  Yet these are local people who are taking courageous measures to reach out to their fellow clans people and inform them of the dangers, precautionary measures and what to do in the face of this rapidly evolving Ebola epedemic.

    FELS is a recently formed NGO by local educated Youths in their mid 20’s determined to make a difference in their country.  BUPOTRA us entirely volunteer based with representation through local elders. Both are also preparing projects for Water & Sanitation, Health Awareness,  Agricultural Self-Sufficiency , Training in Non violent Cooperation and Implication of Youths in Local Community Initiatives, Education especially for Vulnerable Rural Children and Youths, Skills Training and Support in the Development of Local Market Economies.

    These are local people working together on the ground in their own communities.

    I firmly believe these are the people we need to reach out to and support in acheiving self sufficiency. Their needs are great however a little support goes a long way due to their outstanding dedication and commitment.

    Both FELS and BUPOTRA are in need if immediate financial, equipment, training and medical support. These are courageous people who are mobilising themselves to reach out to their clans people through personal contact, community and media based Ebola Awareness Campaigns.

    I am working with them to prepare the necessary Due Diligences, programs,  budgets, financial and donor accounting systems to enable them to meet international due diligence requirements and independently apply for their own funding.

    Any form of voluntary, professional, medical, material and financial and training support these people can be provided with would be most welcome and certainly put to good use.

    I note that UKAid is funding a collaboration with redruk and Mango in Khartoum Sudan to provide a 5 day training for staff from medium sized ngos in financial management.  Of particular interest would be a similar course for startup NGOs and voluntary based ngos making the transition to self funded ngos mobilising volunteers.

    There is a tremendous resource here in motivated and dedicated young people of all backgrounds who are organising themselves with little or no resources.

    This is an update from BUPOTRA Inc which at present has no funding and is struggling to complete budgets, cashflow forecasts and  financial / donor management systems in order to meet Due Diligence requirements to apply to join Global Giving UK.

    Dear Valued subscribers/supporters:
    This is to inform you about the latest expression of interest by local young volunteers to join BUPOTRA Inc initiatives in the fight against the spread of the ebola virus. This is the second in two days, earlier Vaseleke Yarmah responded and a brief conversation was carried out between him and us.
    We are also please to let you know the progress that is being made in the counties by our core volunteers, who with little or no resources continue to commit their time, energies and mega resources that they could have kept for themselves to this effort to safe the lives of those we serve.
    In a  brief update from River cess today, the volunteers through the coordinator represented the organization in expressing the willingness of the volunteers through BUPOTRA Inc to participate in the awareness campaign against the background that there are communities in the county where residents hardly listed to radio nor watch television and as youths who have for the past years volunteered their services through the organization thought not to wait while the lives of the citizens are being threatened.
    It brought tears to me once more when in a phone conversation the volunteer coordinator told the story how  they were able to reach three communities to educate the people about the preventive methods to stay safe from contacting the  virus. Rufus said the residents in these communities welcomed the efforts bu the volunteers saying this is the first time for them to see people reaching out to them about this virus. He also said other volunteers visited some difficult to reach communities  and they are forced to sleep due to the lack of logistics and other necessary materials to speed up the movement.
    They express the urgent need for transportation,,camera, flyers, sanitizer amongst other needed items to enable them protect themselves while they make the efforts to save the lives of others.
    Foe more information about other activities on ebola visit http://www.bupotra.weebly.com
    Like our face book page http://www.facebook.com/bupotra2005
    If you know some one who may have interest to help us safe lives please share with them the word about us.

    Sincerely yours;

    Johnson K.B. Pewu
    Founder & CEO
    Building Potentials for Transformation (BUPOTRA) Inc
    Monrovia Liberia West Africa

    Please treat this request as a matter of urgence. Both BUPOTRA Inc and FELS have prepared comprehensive dossiers available on request which they need
    support in completing.

    Yours sincerely
    Onu

    OB ROY
    GDO Founder

    44 Pingle Croft
    Clayton-le-Woods
    Chorley
    Lancashire
    PR6 7UP

    0044 779 381 0640   

           

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