Right to Care has recruited and trained the first round of healthcare professionals to work in Sierra Leone as part of the SA initiative with the Department of Health and the Wits Health Consortium for the Ebola Emergency Response.

The latest WHO statistics state there have been more than 21,000 reported cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, and more than 8,300 deaths. 678 healthcare workers are known to have contracted Ebola and 382 have died. Ebola has a fatality rate as high as 71%.

Right to Care has trained one medical officer and ten professional nurses in readiness for deployment into one of two Ebola treatment centres that have very high standards of infection control. The healthcare professionals will stay in Sierra Leone for eight weeks and when they return to South Africa they will be quarantined for three weeks.

The medical professionals will receive a salary, full training, flights, transfers, per diems, travel insurance and housing and are repatriated should they contract the disease. Recruitment and training of healthcare workers will be on an ongoing basis every two weeks and additional doctors, nurses and paramedics are being sought to join the next mission.

Chief Medical Officer at Right to Care, Dr Pappie Majuba, said: “Whilst South Africa has no reported Ebola cases, the experiences these healthcare workers gain will be extremely valuable in fighting Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.”

Dr Majuba emphasised that the healthcare staff will work under high safety precautionary conditions, will wear protective clothing, and will work for 90 minute. “Infection control measures are extraordinary within the centres, therefore the risk of contracting Ebola there is low. Interestingly, the risk is when people venture outside the treatment centres,” said Dr Majuba.

Right to Care has contributed R3 million to the initiative and FirstRand (FNB) has committed to paying for transport, international flights and transfers. The private sector has also contributed to this initiative.

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