As part of South Africa’s response to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, Right to Care is seeking healthcare professionals willing to work for three months in Sierra Leone.

The recruitment process is part of the Department of Health’s (DoH) Ebola Emergency Response and is currently underway. Applicants, who will ideally have ICU experience, are being offered full training, flights, transfers, salary, per diems, insurance and housing. Should they contract the disease whilst in Sierra Leone, the South African government has agreed to treatment in South Africa.

CEO of Right to Care and an infectious diseases expert, Prof Ian Sanne, said: “By sending these healthcare workers to Sierra Leone they will not only help the medical sector there, but will gain critical skills in treating this condition should cases reach South Africa. The DoH has said that an effective Ebola response requires R250 million – between government and the private sector only R40 million has been raised so far. We are hoping that the DoH as well as private sector hospitals will release interested doctors and nurses for two months on full pay.  We have teams leaving from 15 January 2015.”

Right to Care, which has contributed R3 million to the initiative, has a coordination manager currently stationed in Sierra Leone, and the organisation is involved in creating more effective systems in the country’s laboratories. “It is taking up to ten days to get Ebola cases confirmed, and by implementing the systems we use in the South African public sector, we can reduce this to five days. Right to Care with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) are distributing bar coded lab forms to the fourteen districts in Sierra Leone,” said Prof Sanne.

There are four partners working on South Africa’s response to Ebola under the leadership of the DoH. They are Right to Care which has a MoU with the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone, the Wits Health Consortium which is overseeing and managing funds from the private sector on behalf of the DoH and the NICD which has set up labs in Sierra Leone, is providing training and has a number of staff there. FirstRand (FNB) has committed to paying for transport, flights and transfers for this medical intervention.

And as to who would be willing to accept such a vital and dangerous mission? “We believe that altruistic medical workers with an interest in infectious diseases are most likely to respond to our call,” concluded Prof Sanne.

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