Panafrican News Agency

Coronavirus: IOM, WHO support quarantine centers with covid-19 on the rise in Gambia


Banjul, Gambia(PANA) - The rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Gambia in recent weeks is taking a heavy toll on The Gambia’s healthcare system, an official statement issued and made available to PANA here Monday said.

The statement by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said over the last 30 days, the country had recorded 1,860 per cent increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, crossing the milestone of 1,000 cases on 5 August.

“To cope with the situation, several hotels have been repurposed into quarantine centers, where healthcare workers and support staff are managing the pandemic every day.

“To support quarantine centers in mitigating COVID-19’s spread, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health organized a four-day training from 4-7 August on the fundamentals of infection prevention and control,” the statement said.

It pointed out that 100 public health and clinical staff, fumigation and waste management staff, psychosocial and social workers, hotel and security workers, and drivers were trained on the proper use of personal protective equipment, sample collection safety techniques, comprehensive case management and effective risk communication.

This training is particularly crucial for hotel workers, like police officer Seedy M. Wally, who are in the frontline of response efforts without a medical background.

“As a security person, it is my job to guide those in quarantine to follow proper guidelines, counsel those who attempt to escape and ensure everyone completes their mandatory quarantine period. From this training, I can further orient my colleagues on precautionary measures while they patrol the centers,” Wally said.

The provision of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) was further incorporated into the training, with isolation taking a toll on the wellbeing of quarantine residents.

“Counseling skills are keys while working in these centers,” declared Mariama Badjie.

“Here, we have the opportunity to better understand how to listen, observe and effectively communicate, in order to deal with challenges at the centers,” she added.

“Healthcare workers and support staff bear a much higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. This training emphasized the need for them to adhere to proper protocol and reinforce them when dealing with confirmed or suspected cases,” remarked Dr. Simeonette De Asis, IOM’s migration health officer in The Gambia. “Furthermore, mainstreaming MHPSS principles into the training will hopefully boost staff morale—enabling them to provide quality counseling and support to quarantine residents.”

The training was made possible with support from the UN Peacebuilding Fund.


-0-   PANA    MSS/RA   10Aug2020