NEW YORK, September 25, 2014 – Prof Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University will lead a team at the NGO Millennium Promise to support the Government of Guinea in its rapid Ebola response.
The work, which begins immediately, will focus on four core activities:
- The rapid design and implementation of a real-time, national-scale informatics system. Based on the use of smartphones by community health workers, the system will help Guinea track Ebola cases and trace contacts of infected people to help control the spread of the disease.
- The deployment of thousands of community health workers specially trained to support communities impacted by Ebola, including case detection, contact tracking, community information and awareness, and other functions;
- Strategic planning, costing and implementation design for the rapid scale-up of all facets of epidemic control: surveillance, case detection, treatment, contact tracking, behavioral change, training and upgrading facilities, and others.
- Promotion of global collaboration by international organizations and the business sector that is highly responsive and targeted to Guinea’s urgent needs.
“To catch up with and beat Ebola, we need to substantially scale up our response,” said Guinean President Alpha M. Condé. “The immediate deployment of community health workers trained and equipped through an initiative of Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University will accelerate and strengthen our national response to Ebola, as well as structure a response at the level of our local communities, who will be empowered to fight back and understand how to contain [such] diseases.”
The work has already begun and will build in the coming weeks. The project team leader will be Anne Liu, who is the lead manager of the Community Health Worker Program of the Millennium Villages Project.
As Guinea moves beyond the epidemic emergency, the newly deployed community health worker responsibilities will shift to strengthening essential primary health services. This will include work on: surveillance of danger signs and referrals; healthy behavior counseling around nutrition, sanitation, and bed-net usage; curative care for diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia; and counseling of pregnant women around antenatal care visits, postnatal care visits, institutional delivery and healthy pregnancy.
The Earth Institute will serve as a technical advisor to help build the Community-Based Ebola Response Program. This work builds on a decade of Earth Institute leadership on community-based health delivery in rural Africa, including the 1 Million Community Health Worker Campaign.
Full statement from President Alpha Condé:
“To catch up with and beat Ebola, we need to substantially scale up our response and implement without any delay all the resolutions and actions decided this week. Because each day counts, the immediate deployment of Community Health Workers trained and equipped through an initiative of Professor Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University will accelerate and strengthen our national response to Ebola, as well as structure a response at the level of our local communities, who will be empowered to fight back and understand how to contain [such] diseases.
“The international community has heard us and now realizes that we are facing a global menace, which we, Africans, did not bring upon ourselves and have done all we could to fight. Ebola is a very serious threat requiring a unanimous resolve and full commitment from all of us; but it is not [a losing battle]. We now know how to break the chain of viral transmission and how to care for infected persons, who have a significantly higher survival rate when diagnosed early and treated appropriately.
Panic, fear and country isolation will not help. Massively scaling-up awareness campaigns, training, protective gear availability, systematic testing, treatment facilities as well as the number of health care and management personnel, will.
“We are confident that this partnership will enhance our capacity and make a difference immediate in our response, while setting the stage for building a more robust national health system designed to provide adequate healthcare for our peoples and combat any future epidemics.”