Allyson R. Nelson, Anne Fiedler,Topian Zikeh, Nancy Moses, Chandrakant Ruparelia, Lolade Oseni, Mantue Reeves, and Birhanu Getahun presented the work of the Maternal and Child Survival Project in preventing infection among health workers during Ebola and other infectious disease outbreaks. Their efforts are shared below.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014–2015 affected an estimated 4% of the Liberian health workforce. 372 health workers contracted EVD, and 184 died. EVD outbreak and transmission between health care workers and clients highlighted critical gaps in health facilities, especially infection prevention (IPC) practices including waste, water, and triage infrastructure.
Liberia’s ministry of health (MOH), with support from Jhpiego and other partners, developed and introduced IPC standards in 2015. Through funding from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the United States Agency for International Development’s Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), Jhpiego worked with the MOH to achieve and maintain adherence to IPC standards in over 200 health facilities from 2015 to 2017.
Capacity-building was central to addressing the problem. The team identified critical gaps in skills, infrastructure, supplies hindering adherence to IPC standards. They developed and rolled out standard operating procedures for clinical and nonclinical settings.
Partners provided IPC supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE), 90 hand hygiene buckets, Soap, Gloves, 50 waste containers, Rain boots, and Sharps containers.
Capacity building included Training (clinical and support personnel). 278 existing health facility staff members as IPC focus points for daily monitoring (OFDA) were trained. Additionally 1,065 health facility staff were trained in Keep Safe Keep Serving IPC and emergency response training (OFDA). Onsite IPC management teams were established in 210 facilities (KOICA and MCSP). Also health workers were offered onsite refresher trainings.
Supportive supervision, mentoring, and coaching were capacity building interventions. 50 district health officers and supervisors were trained in eight counties in supportive supervision, mentoring, and coaching (OFDA). They co-conducted, with district and county health staff, 7,980 weekly and 2,280 monthly supportive supervision visits (OFDA). IPC practices were monitored against the MOH’s IPC minimum standards tool monthly, with scoring, feedback to clinicians and supervisors, and development of action plans for improvement of gaps. Onsite mentoring and coaching was provided on adherence using IPC minimum standards tool at least four times yearly (KOICA and MCSP).
As a result of the intervention Clinicians and support personnel at program-supported health care facilities adopted, adhered to, and maintained proper IPC practices. This enabled them to provide safe services and evidenced by IPC scores from the Safe, Quality Health Services IPC standards tool. Out of 131 health facilities at endline 99% improved their waste disposal, particularly the availability and use of puncture-resistant sharps containers for the safety of cleaning staff. All (100%) had in place and were using a clear protocol for management and disposal of waste. 98% were segregating waste for safe disposal and management to avoid contamination and spread of infectious disease. 94% had a functional latrine/toilet. All (100%) had operational IPC focus points ensuring adherence to IPC practices. In 95%, staff were regularly using risk-appropriate personal protective equipment during routine care.
Lessons learned from the intervention showed the importance of the following efforts:
- Comprehensive support is needed to improve adherence to infection prevention and control (IPC) standard practices:
- Capacity-building among health facility staff
- Infrastructure upgrades
- Provision/availability of IPC supplies
- To maintain that adherence after the immediate threat has passed and thus mitigate potential future outbreaks, health facilities need:
- Continuous hands-on mentoring
- Upgraded IPC infrastructure for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health services
- Changes in behavior and attitudes of health facility staff
- Regular and rigorous data collection and feedback
This poster was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the Cooperative Agreement AID-OAA-A-14-00028. The contents are the responsibility of the Maternal and Child Survival Program and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
Abbreviations: EBSNM, Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwifery; HRH, Human Resources for Health; KOICA, Korea International Cooperation Agency; MCSP, Maternal and Child Survival Program; MPCHS, Mother Patern College of Health Sciences; MTPSER, Midwifery Training Program-Southeastern Region; PTP, Phebe Paramedical Training Program; RHS, Restoration of Health Services; TNIMA, Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts; UMU, United Methodist University
Below is a list of Jhpiego Sessions at this week’s American Society of Tropical Medicine Annual Meeting in New Orleans (28 October-1 November). Please attend if you are at the conference:
- Poster Number 098: Performance of community health workers in providing integrated community case management services (iCCM) in 8 districts of Rwanda
- Poster 380: Contribution of quarterly malaria data review and validation to data quality and malaria services Improvement
- Poster LB-5117: Community based health workers can enhance coverage of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy and promote antenatal attendance
Poster Session B, Tuesday 30 October
- Poster 1088: Assessing organizational capacity to deliver quality malaria services in rural Liberia
- Poster 1092: Contribution of IMC project in transforming the face of malaria control for vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso
- Poster 1093: Malaria response plan in times of high transmission: An approach to improving the quality of hospital malaria management
- Poster 1111: Setting the stage to introduce a ground breaking approach to prevent malaria in pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa: baseline-readiness assessment findings from Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Nigeria
- Poster 1337: Institutionalizing infection prevention and control practices in health facilities in Liberia following the Ebola epidemic
Scientific Session 87, Tuesday, 1:45 – 3:30 p.m. Marriott – La Galerie 1 & 2 – 2nd Floor: Improving procurement and redeployment of district level malaria commodities using SMS and web mapping in Madagascar
Poster Session C, Wednesday 31 October
- Poster 1816: Experiences and perceptions of care seeking for febrile illness among caregivers and providers in 8 districts of Madagascar
- Poster 1818: Improving adherence to national malaria treatment guidelines by village health workers in selected townships through a low-dose, high-frequency training approach
- Poster 1819: Improving malaria case management through national roll-out of Malaria Service and Data Quality Improvement (MSDQI): A Case study from Tanzania
- Poster 1820: Collaborative quality improvement framework to support data quality improvement, experience from 10 collaborative facilities in Uganda
- Poster 1821: Using malaria death audits to improve malaria case management and prevent future malaria related preventable deaths
- Poster 1833: Multiple approaches for malaria case management in the struggle to reach pre-elimination of malaria.
Scientific Session 182, Thursday, November 1, 10:15 am – 12:00 p.m. Marriott – Balcony I,J,K – 3rd Floor: Seasonal malaria chemoprevention, an effective intervention for reducing malaria morbidity and mortality
Dr. Obinna O E Oleribe, Chief Executive Officer, E&F Management Care Centre, Abuja Nigeria (Twitter: @OleribeO) shares with readers his view and experiences concerning the August 2015 – May 2016 Lassa Fever outbreak in Nigeria and sees its handling as a strong indicator of weak and failing National Health System.
On February 6th, 2016, the Vanguard Newspaper reported the growing Lassa Fever outbreak that had killed over 101 persons out of 175 suspected and confirmed cases since August 2015 when the outbreak began in Nigeria. More recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it had been notified of 273 cases of Lassa fever, including 149 deaths in Nigeria between August 2015 and May 17, 2016. Of the 273, 165 cases and 89 deaths were confirmed through laboratory investigation from 23 states of Nigeria. These deaths include two health care workers out of 10 infected with Lassa fever virus. As at the time of the WHO report (May 17, 2016), eight states were still reporting Lassa fever cases (suspected, probable, and confirmed), deaths and following 248 contacts for the maximum 21-day incubation period.
First diagnosed in Nigeria in 1969, Lassa fever (LF) is an acute viral illness caused by Lassa virus, a zoonotic, rodent-borne (multimammate rat), single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus from the Arenaviridae, virus family. Since it first isolation in 1969 from a missionary nurse working in Lassa town of Borno State in North-Eastern Nigeria, Lassa Fever has become almost endemic in not only Nigeria, but the West African sub-region as it has continued to be a major public health concern in Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea with over 70 million people at risk of the disease. Annually, there are over 3 million cases and about 67,000 deaths from Lassa Fever globally. High association with nosocomial outbreaks, healthcare workers are at increased risk of infection and death. Also, the disease is fast spreading beyond the shores of West Africa into Europe and America from viremic travelers.
A look at the WHO website revealed that Lassa Fever has gained the importance it demanded and was rightly cited on its first page as a disease of public health importance (disease outbreak news). Also, as it is further decreasing the already very limited human resources for health in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa, one would have thought that healthcare managers across the world would have given it the attention it needed.
In July 2014, Ebola was identified in Nigeria (Lagos State) after Patrick Sawyer imported the disease from Liberia (where there was already an ongoing epidemic). The Lagos State Government, the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigerian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP) and Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) with the support of well-meaning Nigerian volunteers and some international organizations rose to the occasion and within four months (July 20 – October 20, 2014) kicked Ebola out of Nigeria. They achieved this unbelievable feat through decisive actions, interdisciplinary collaboration, intensive case management, detailed contact tracing, and active port health services. Using isolation, quarantine and supportive management of the infected, case fatality rate was kept at 40% as eight out of the 20 infected individuals succumbed to the virus including several health workers. What was more interesting was the immediate response of government and all relevant stakeholders. The success recorded was to the amazement of the entire world, and completely against all epidemic projects and statistical reasoning.
However, few months later, there is another epidemic of another viral hemorrhagic fever. This time around, by a virus that is not as deadly or virulent as Ebola. It has lasted for ten months, killed more people (over 1100% of those killed by Ebola), affected over 800% more cases and with higher case fatality rate of 54%. One, cannot but wonder why Nigeria is finding it difficult to mobilize the same strategies that ended Ebola in Nigeria in 2014 to end Lassa Fever? Or are the structures and personnel not available for this particular outbreak? Or is the will to stop the outbreak lacking among policy makers and healthcare managers?
I believe that there is a need to focus on developing sustainable public health systems that can be mobilized to manage outbreaks across nation; have ready and equipped field workers and foot soldiers who will track, isolate and manage suspected, probable and confirmed cased of any outbreak; and maintain strong surveillance systems able to identify and contain any new, emerging or re-emerging outbreaks.
Nigeria and her leaders should value the lives of the Nigerian people. The government should take health issues more seriously. The citizens of Nigeria need a government that cares. Healthcare workers have a right to live – and not die while working to save other people’s lives. Every hand should be on deck right now to end this outbreak – and as much as possible ensure a delay of its re-emergence.
The time to end Lassa Fever outbreak is NOW. Let us all work towards stopping it once and for all.
The recent World Malaria Day observances called on all partners to “Invest in the Future, Defeat Malaria.” The word ‘investments’ brings to mind huge supplies of insecticide treated nets and malaria medicines. The recent and ongoing Ebola crisis has shown how vulnerable health workers are when trying to diagnose and manage malaria when investments have not been made in safety equipment and training.
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa as well as its predecessors in Central Africa has taken a disproportionate toll on health workers. In the early stages of the outbreak, health workers regular front line clinics became infected when patients with Ebola, a disease which none had seen before, were initially thought to have malaria or other endemic febrile illnesses.
Contact with the various bodily fluids of these febrile patients during physical examination, including parasitological testing of blood for malaria diagnosis, combined with a lack of personal protection/infection prevention supplies and materials, resulted in many unnecessary health worker deaths. Many clinics closed, while those that remained open saw a drop in clients due to fears from beliefs that the unknown disease was emanating from the clinic.
It is necessary to ensure that health workers do not face such a fate again, nor be exposed to other blood borne pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis B. In addition attention is needed to protect others on the front line such as patent medicine shop workers and community health volunteers. A two-pronged approach is needed that combines education/training with a strong procurement and supply system for infection prevention and personal protection materials.
We should take advantage of World Health Organization guidance for infection prevention related to hemorrhagic fevers and within that has stressed the importance of general protection. Performing Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) for malaria is the time when most front line health workers could come into contact with a patient’s blood. Training materials and job aids as pictured here, stress the importance of hand washing and use of gloves, but the availability of regular water supplies and disposable gloves in many front line clinics is low or non-existent. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers the following guidance for malaria diagnosis and case management in countries where both Ebola and malaria are endemic. In addition to front line health staff, we have learned that community volunteers can safely practice infection prevention while performing RDTs by wearing gloves and correctly disposing the used materials.
Efforts to enable medicine shop workers to use RDTs have begun. They do become more vulnerable during Ebola outbreaks as public clinics may close due to health worker deaths. In Liberia medicine sellers who were taught to use RDTs were asked to stop the practice until safety could be assured.
Continuous investment in RDTs themselves as well as the safety and protective supplies and treatment is needed. RDTs if performed properly can save lives of community members. Infection prevention steps and equipment can save the lives of the health workers who care for the community.
A longer version of this posting will appear in the May 2015 issue of Africa Health.