Last week we finally had some good news from Sierra Leone: a district in Sierra Leone, Pujehun, has been declared Ebola-free, the first to be given the all-clear after 42 days with zero recorded cases of the virus, as reported in this article on The Observer.
This first glimpse of really good news is significant not only for the lives saved: this is a District where there has been a locally driven community-led response since the outbreak, and well before the international response was mobilised.
Our Sierra Leonean volunteers have been engaged full time in the District for over a decade, with measured impact on social change programmes. This almost seamlessly translated in today’s 70 full time embedded mobilisers working with communities to develop their local responses across the District.
A similar impact is within reach elsewhere – with neighbouring Kailahun having not had a new case for 27 days.
This opportunity is re-enforced by the latest monitoring data coming from our programmes. To date communities where we are working have reported:
- 84.7% (2,518) of deaths being buried in line with safe dignified medical burials (noting unsafe burial is a primary source of transmission).
- 76.7% (2,197) people with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) symptoms were referred within 24hours.
As part of our community mobilisation, pairs of social mobilisers (one male, one female) are tasked with ‘triggering’ 12 communities each in 3 hour sessions attended by community members. ‘Triggering’ involves participatory rural appraisal techniques – such as risk ranking, burial role plays and body mapping – which are used to help communities build their own self-awareness of what is happening and reach a collective decision to take action.
Their daily tasks include:
- facilitating safe dignified medical burials and health-seeking behaviour;
- developing a referral mechanism for at risk children (affected by Ebola Virus Disease) to the Ministry of Social Welfare.
Following triggering, communities develop action plans which will be followed up and monitored regularly, and are visited every 3 weeks and have weekly phone contact with their social mobilisers.
SOME DATA ON OUR PROGRESS
- 1,760 social mobilisers across 11 districts in Sierra Leone received a 5 day training.
- 3,306 communities have been triggered, 47.8% of our planned reach through April.
- 97% of communities that were triggered have action plans and follow-up with be monitored in the next quarter.
- We referred 32 children with Ebola Virus Disease symptoms from 11 Districts during November–December.
- Following scale up of another 230 mobilisers (due in February), a total of 23,880 communities will be triggered, an unprecedented outreach for an NGO in Sierra Leone.
To read more about the situation of the Ebola emergency, read here the Weekly UNMEER/NERC Report for Sierra Leone, covering the period of 5-11 January.
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