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December 16, 2014

Contributing to Containing Ebola in Senegal
Emergency assistance and mid- to long-term assistance swiftly implemented

photoThe map shows the countries with Ebola cases in West Africa. The cases in Senegal and Nigeria have been contained (as of Nov. 21, according to the World Health Organization).

Ebola went on the rampage in West Africa. Although an infected patient was confirmed in Senegal at the end of August, thanks to adequate response by the Government of Senegal, the country declared an “all clear” in mid-October.

Using information and human networks gained in past cooperation, JICA has greatly contributed to containing Ebola in Senegal by swiftly implementing emergency assistance and mid- to long-term assistance.

'All Clear' announced after confirmation of only one case

It was reported Aug. 29 about the first case in Senegal that a student of Guinean nationality was infected by the Ebola virus, and he was quarantined in a special ward of a national hospital in Dakar, Fann Hospital. After being treated by trained staff specializing in infectious diseases, he recovered and made it home to Guinea on Sept. 20.

Quarantine and monitoring of 74 people who had contact with this patient were also completed on Sept. 18. Since then, no Ebola case has been found in Senegal and the Ministry of Health and Social Action has declared the outbreak over.

Considering the fact that cases of secondary infections were found in the U.S. and Spain, which are believed to have advanced medical care systems, Senegal’s case can be considered remarkable.

Emergency assistance swiftly implemented

photoAmbassador of Japan Takashi Kitahara, second from left, hands over hygiene equipment to Senegal’s Minister for Health Awa Marie Coll-Seck.

“Japan always stays beside us,” said Minister for Health Awa Marie Coll-Seck at a hand-over ceremony of emergency supplies from Japan, which took place two weeks after an announcement of the Ebola case.

Aiming for urgent assistance first, JICA’s Expert Toshiyasu Shimizu, who was assigned as a technical advisor for the minister for Health and Social Action, immediately had a discussion with people involved in the ministry by using his network gained through past cooperation, and prepared a list of required supplies. Based on the list, the ministry announced required supplies to the international community, including the Japanese government.

photoSome of the supplies provided to Fann Hospital, including beds and blankets

In response, JICA provided supplies including medical equipment and goods, beds and consumable goods to Fann Hospital to strengthen its facilities for the patients and to build up a system to quarantine and treat Ebola patients and suspected patients.

Also, using the human network of the ongoing Project for Reinforcement for Maternal and New Born Health Care Phase 2 and other means, JICA provided health and hygiene equipment including antiseptic solution and aerosol, as well as work clothes, to enhance measures for preventing infection. The equipment was sent to health centers in five regions that share a border with Guinea where Ebola infection is serious. They are Tambacounda, Kedougou, Kolda, Fatick and Dakar.

Regional health Officers in the recipient regions gave feedback including that the preventive structure of the facility was strengthened, and awareness of prevention among the staff and patients was improved.

Once the habit of washing hands using antiseptic solution is established, it is effective not only for preventing Ebola virus infection but also other infectious diseases such as cholera.

Strengthening awareness activities from a mid- to long-term perspective

photoA fisherman talks about the importance of washing hands in front of a poster.

In addition to the emergency assistance to the Ministry of Health and Social Action, JICA is conducting a major awareness campaign for prevention from a mid- to long-term perspective, in cooperation with the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy and the Ministry of Education.

Jointly with the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy, JICA provided assistance to an awareness campaign for small-scale fishermen, their families, and friends who might have contact with them (approximately 400,000 people). The campaign distributed awareness posters, T-shirts, and antiseptic solution to the small-scale fishermen who returned home from neighboring countries such as Guinea and Liberia in time for Tabaski (1) on Oct. 5. Regional offices of the Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy and small-scale fishermen’s associations helped with the distribution of campaign goods.

Fishermen who received the goods said, “A poster has been put up within our sight so we now wash our hands more frequently,” “We load antiseptic sets (buckets and antiseptic solution) on our boat so we can use them at any time” and “awareness of Ebola prevention has increased.”

Also, with the Ministry of Education, JICA is in discussions to promote the awareness campaign to teachers and students through elementary schools. It will involve the Strengthening Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education Project Phase 2. While the project plans to provide training in science and mathematics education targeted to all primary school principals in the six regions (approximately 3,000 people), it was decided to add Ebola prevention training to it.

To implement the training, JICA worked together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which supports drafting materials for teacher training, and held a workshop to create the training material in late October.

JICA swiftly implemented assistance with Ebola countermeasures and contributed to containing the spread of infection. In the future, it also plans to proactively work on the provision of required equipment, as well as awareness campaigns in the neighboring countries of Mali and Guinea, where the situation is more serious.

Note:

1: Tabaski is also known as Eid al-Adha or the “sheep festival.” It is the biggest annual event for Muslims.

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