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SA's health workers to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone

The first group of healthcare professionals recruited to help treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone is due to leave on Friday, Right to Care announced on Monday.

Right to Care is a nonprofit organisation working closely with the Department of Health to support its aid to Sierra Leone.

It launched an appeal in December for doctors, nurses and paramedics to help the West African nation.

Sierra Leone has been hardest hit by the region's Ebola outbreak, which has also affected Liberia and Guinea.

The virus has infected about 21,000 people, 10,000 of them in Sierra Leone, and has killed at least 8,300 people, according to the World Health Organisation. At least 678 healthcare workers are known to have contracted the virus, of whom 382 have died.

Eleven nurses and one doctor have undergone intensive training in SA, and would face another week of training in Freetown before they begin working in treatment centres there, said Right to Care medical director Pappie Majuba.

A total of 25 healthcare professionals had volunteered so far, a response he said was "fairly good" considering the appeal was launched just before SA's summer holiday season began. Three healthcare professionals who volunteered have been forced to stay home as they do not have valid travel documents, he said.

Right to Care said South African healthcare professionals would not only support Sierra Leone's healthcare sector but also gain valuable experience in dealing with viral haemorrhagic fevers. Such skills would prove useful should Ebola or related diseases occur in SA.

The volunteers would spend only eight weeks in Sierra Leone, as the experience of aid organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Emergency showed that longer stints in such intense working environments increased the risks to healthcare workers, said Dr Majuba.

"People start making mistakes if they are there too long," he said.

He would join the next batch of South African volunteers in Sierra Leone, who are expected to leave within the next two to four weeks.

"The healthcare staff will be working … under difficult conditions. The ‘space suit' that is worn includes three layers of protection, including gloves, boots and headgear, and those wearing it work for no longer than 90 minute shifts as it is so hot," he said.

"Infection control is extraordinary within the hospitals so the risk of contracting Ebola there is low. The risk is when people venture outside the hospital," Dr Majuba said.

The volunteers will be closely monitored for three weeks after returning to SA, and will be prohibited from having contact with local patients during this time.

"We will ask them to remain at home and not to mix with people. Not even shaking hands will be allowed until the quarantine period is done."
The medical volunteers will be repatriated if they contract Ebola.

Source URL: http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/health/2015/01/20/sas-health-workers-to-help-fight-ebola-in-sierra-leone

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SA role in Ebola vaccine clinical trial

South African healthcare workers in Sierra Leone might be among the frontline staff offered experimental Ebola vaccines when clinical trials get under way in West Africa in the next two months, it emerged last week.
Researchers and vaccine manufacturers are pushing ahead with plans to test whether three experimental Ebola vaccines are effective against the virus, racing against time as the number of patients falls.
West Africa has experienced the worst outbreak of Ebola since it was first identified in 1976, with about 21,000 cases and more than 8,000 deaths recorded so far.
The health department has sent a team of experts from the National Health Laboratory Service to run mobile testing facilities in Sierra Leone, and last month called for healthcare workers to volunteer there too. Transmission remains intense in Sierra Leone but cases are dwindling in Guinea and Liberia — the two other countries worst affected. Since determining a vaccine's efficacy requires comparing how many vaccinated people get sick compared to those who are not given the shots, this comparison gets increasingly difficult as the number of patients falls.
Recently the World Health Organisation convened a meeting of experts from drug companies, regulatory agencies and health ministries to review the data from initial safety trials of candidate Ebola vaccines and finalise plans for larger, phase 3 trials in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
"We won't break the outbreak until we have a vaccine. There is a real opportunity if we get into the field soon, " vaccine expert Helen Rees, who co-chaired the meeting, told Business Day. It was not just a public health issue, but a social and economic one, said Prof Rees, who is also the executive director of the Reproductive Health and HIV Institute at Wits University.
A clinical trial is due to begin in Liberia by the end of the month, and studies in Sierra Leone and Guinea will begin in February.
It is likely to take up to six months to determine whether the vaccines are effective.

Source URL: http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/health/2015/01/19/sa-role-in-ebola-vaccine-clinical-trial

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60% of SA sex workers HIV positive

About 60% of South Africa's estimated 150 000 sex workers are HIV positive.
The statistics were announced by the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) at the launch of a national HIV/Aids programme for sex workers in Johannesburg yesterday, The New Age reported.
"How can you talk about HIV prevention and not talk about sex work, knowing that HIV transmission involves sex?" Sanac chief executive Fareed Abdullah was quoted as saying at the launch.
Sex workers, their "non-commercial partners" and their clients accounted for between 6% and 11% of all new infections in South Africa.
These "concerning" figures pushed Sanac and its partners to develop a programme aimed at fighting HIV/Aids in the sex worker industry, the publication reported.
"The programme also aimed at ensuring access to state social and health services where sex workers can receive HIV counselling and testing, treatment and contraception," Abdullah said.
The national coordinator of sex workers' movement Sisonke, Kholi Buthelezi, said it was the duty of all sex workers to ensure the programme was successful.
"We want to use condoms but sometimes our clients refuse," she said.

Source URL: http://www.citypress.co.za/news/60-sa-sex-workers-hiv-positive/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=60-sa-sex-workers-hiv-positive

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  • Mission and Vision

  • Values

The Department derives its mandate from the following laws:
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act, 108 of 1996
Provides for the rights of access to health care services and emergency medical

Healthy self reliant communities in the North West
To render accessible, equitable and integrated quality health

Batho Pele Principles, Patient Rights Charter, Victims Rights Charter, Children's Rights Charter, Disability Rights Charter, Older Persons Pledge, Public Service Principles, Accountability, Transparency, Community participation, Excellence, Caring, Human dignity & respect,Access

Provincial Office Contacts

Postal Address:

Private Bag x2068, Mmabatho, 2735

Physical Address:
Cnr 1st Street & Sekame Road, Mafikeng, 2745

Tel: +27 (0) 18 391 4000/1