Rwanda and outbreak cell development

“In five years, things have certainly changed in the principles of design of an Ebola Treatment Unit”

Reflections from Sierra Leone to Rwanda by Vero Verónica Sánchez Carrera (WASH engineer)

It’s been over five years since my time working in the most widespread outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in history, in Western African.  I spent over ten months in Sierra Leone, with GOAL setting up one of  the Department for International Development’s (DFID) six 100 bedded Ebola Treatment Units from scratch, and it was here that I had my first contact with UK-Med.

Now five years on, I spent several weeks in Rwanda in December 2019 supporting DFID with their Ebola preparedness activities, with three members from UK-Med’s newly established outbreak response register. Rwanda is a neighbouring country to the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are experiencing the second largest ever Ebola outbreak. Part of our Rwanda preparedness activities was a technical review of the current identified Ebola Treatment Units and Isolation facilities in country, for any possible or confirmed Ebola patients.

It is positive to see that in five years, things have certainly changed in the principles of design of an Ebola Treatment Unit and isolation facility.  All have been influenced by learning through experience and the drive to improve the basic principles of care to allow for the provision of optimal care with new therapeutics improving patient outcomes and best practices in infection, prevention and control and safety. Gone are the large tents for suspect or probable patients; they are replaced with dedicated isolation facilities which have single room capabilities with their own toilets and showers for patients who are awaiting confirmation of their blood results to see if they test negative or positive for Ebola. Only patients who are confirmed with Ebola are transferred to a treatment unit.  Post-transferal, critically unwell patients may also be nursed in the Cube, which is a purpose built, transparent individual isolation unit designed by Alima for treating highly contagious patients more safely and effectively.

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