Ebola Volunteers uncover 4 Ebola suspects in Grafton houses

bahOn a bright, hot day, hundreds of Ebola Response Volunteers walk through Freetown’s congested Grafton community, armed with a megaphone, posters and flyers and thermometers for temperature checks, they uncovered four Ebola suspects lying down in house.
The four people were visibly sick after a temperature check was done by the Ebola volunteers they were referred to the National Ebola Response Center at Grafton for further medical checks.
The Ebola hotspot busters are deploy rapidly to communities that are considered hotspots of the Ebola epidemic, as part of an immediate response to the Ebola outbreak.
Members of the community themselves, are trained to intensify social mobilization activities and increase engagement of communities to stop the spread of Ebola. They conduct one-on-one sensitization sessions, house-to-house visits and public awareness-raising.
To ensure that the hotspot is covered, the social mobilizers activate youth, women and volunteer networks in each community and reach approximately 9,000 households every week. The Ebola volunteers are involved in active community surveillance and are approached by community members to call, 117, Ebola hotline, so as to refer sick ones to the nearest hospital.
Since the initiative began, the Ebola Response Volunteers have carried out social mobilization in more than 30 hotspot communities with some 2,500; households been reached on their house-to-house visits.
In partnership with Rectour, Volunteers are supported by welthungerhilfe a German NGO is pioneering the project in the hope that greater social participation will lead to heightened awareness and accountability for one’s own community.
The efforts are bearing fruit, in Tombo, Devil Hole and Grafton within the Western Area, community spirit is paving the way for better coordination, reporting and trust of social mobilizers, contact tracers and other Ebola workers in the community.
Manfilla Kellie Marrah the Western Area Ebola Response Coordinator for Welthungerhilfe said over 200 volunteer’s help their neighbours understand why Ebola workers such as the Hotspot Busters are coming into their community.
“We try and make them understand the essence of driving Ebola out from their communities and also making people accept that Ebola is real,” Manfilla Marah stated.
Community leaders also consider the social mobilizers integral to their overall Ebola response. Councillor Ibrahim Conteh from the Grafton community said more than a hundred per cent the social mobilizers have been helpful to us,” he says.
They work around the clock as a member of the community, always with us and always involved. They investigate the issues, go to the homes to educate people and report if there are sick persons to make sure they are taken to the hospital, Councillor Conteh said.
The Sierra Leone Police and the military joined the Ebola Volunteers to carry out the house to house check for the sick at Grafton.
By Saidu Bah
Monday February 02, 2015