Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Welbodi is recruiting: come and join me in Sierra Leone...

Welbodi Partnership is a UK-registered charitable organisation based at Ola During Children’s Hospital (ODCH) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. For the past five years, Welbodi has been working towards improved paediatric care and a reduced child mortality rate in the Western Area of Sierra Leone through hospital infrastructural development, staff training, and community engagement in partnership with ODCH staff, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Sierra Leone Institute of Child Health (SLICH).

Welbodi Partnership will continue to support paediatric healthcare in Sierra Leone during the current outbreak of Ebola and is looking to recruit the following people to join the team in Freetown, Sierra Leone:
  • (Paediatric) Nurse Educator
  • Community Coordinator/Advisor
  • Project Manager
Ebola has a big impact on the public health systems in the country and will lead to a higher morbidity and mortality from other illnesses. Many children will die during the outbreak due to preventable and treatable conditions such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. While measures to stop the transmission of Ebola are scaled up, there is a need to focus on supporting the hospital to safely provide routine paediatric services.

A partner organization is running an Ebola holding unit at ODCH, which enables Welbodi Partnership to focus on the hospital itself. Our main activities are:
  • To support ODCH in strengthening the delivery of essential ‘routine’ health services (non-Ebola care) to children during the Ebola outbreak in a safe manner, by providing training (plus supervision and ongoing assessment) to hospital staff (nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters, laboratory technicians, etc.), with a primary focus on infection prevention and control (IPC); and by ensuring that IPC supplies and equipment are available to ensure a safe working environment. Thorough screening of patients prior to entering the hospital should decrease the risk of exposure of health care workers, but a degree of risk remains, making the need for strict infection prevention and control (IPC) protocols essential. Other training modules will be taught once the IPC programme has been implemented effectively.
  • To provide ODCH with an Ebola Response Fund to meet immediate needs for the hospital during the outbreak for projects that have a direct impact on the Ebola response. The projects can relate to infrastructure, equipment & supplies and capacity building
  • To play an active role in the Case Management Committee for the Ebola Response, chaired by the MOHS Director of Hospital and Laboratories, which reports to the National Ebola Response Team. This role involves providing input to Standard Operating Procedures (Holding Centres, Non-Ebola Care Units, Infection Prevention and Control, Ambulance/Transport systems, and more) rolled out at national level.
  • To provide direct coordination support to the ODCH Ebola Holding Unit, supported by MOHS and a partner NGO, to ensure that laboratory results are obtained quickly and patients are transferred appropriately.
Once the Ebola outbreak stabilizes we will resume our core activity, which is to provide long-term health system strengthening. We will do this in collaboration with ODCH staff, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Sierra Leone Institute of Child Health (SLICH) to address the infrastructure, equipment and capacity building needs of ODCH and surrounding PHUs by using a participatory approach at community, PHU and hospital level. We will also help establish and support training programmes such as in-country postgraduate training for doctors in paediatrics, a diploma course in paediatric nursing management and leadership and continuing professional development for healthcare workers.
We are currently looking for people to fill the following positions as soon as possible. Due to the urgency, applications will be reviewed as they are received and suitable candidates contacted on an on-going basis. All of the positions are for a minimum of 6 weeks, desirable is 6 months with the possibility of extension. Familiarity with Sierra Leone is a great plus.

Job title:
(Paediatric) Nurse Educator
To support the national nurse educator in the ODCH nurse training office and help ensure the continuous implementation of high quality in-service training for nurses. Initial focus will be providing IPC training and supervision and monitoring on the wards to healthcare workers (nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters, etc.).
Minimum: A recognised professional nurse qualification with additional qualification in paediatric nursing or infection prevention & control or education, with at least 2 years of experience.
Experience of nursing and/or teaching nurses in West Africa.

Job title:
Community Coordinator/Advisor
To assess the current needs in the communities and Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) in the vicinity of ODCH in terms of social mobilization in the Ebola response as well as access to and availability of child health services. Long term: To support women and children by engaging community groups in participatory learning and action cycles to identify and prioritize challenges in accessing quality care and addressing these issues at community, PHU and hospital levels.
Minimum: Graduate level degree in relevant field or minimum 3 years health sector and project management experience.
Community or project management experience in a developing country.

Job title:
Project Manager
To manage projects at community, PHU and hospital level approved by the SLICH Board or a designated sub-committee that have a direct impact on the response to Ebola and neonatal and child health. This includes managing financial and material resources as well as ensuring that project objectives and outcomes are well designed, monitored, evaluated and met. To reconvene and facilitate quality improvement groups in facilities when this is feasible and appropriate.
Minimum: Graduate level degree in relevant field or minimum 3 years health sector and project management experience
Project management experience in a developing country


We are looking for people to join the Welbodi Partnership team in Freetown as soon as possible. Benefits include a return flight to/from Sierra Leone, cost of visas and residence permits, cost of national professional registration, shared accommodation, emergency medical and travel insurance (including evacuation), transportation to and from work and a monthly stipend. A good command of the English language is required. Flexibility in roles and responsibility is essential. Appropriate training will be provided on arrival in Sierra Leone and personal protective equipment will be provided on site.

Application process

Interested candidates should email a copy of their CV, cover letter, and a list of three relevant references to as soon as possible. The job title should be included in the subject line. We welcome applicants of any nationality, including Sierra Leoneans at home or in the diaspora. Only those applicants shortlisted for an interview will be notified.

Your cover letter should include:
  • Your country of residence and nationality
  • Your date of birth
  • Dates you are able to commence
  • Duration of availability

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ebola: The reality as Freetown and outskirts hit 1001 cases...

It seems as if an hour doesn't go by without Ebola being a part of it. Whether it is during a conversation, work at the hospital, a radio programme, an advertisement, a bucket of chlorinated bleach outside a restaurant, an ambulance with driver in a protective suit that drives by, the constant thought of not touching one's face, no personal contact, a billboard etc. Ebola has become entwined with daily life. Strangely though, when driving through Freetown things still feel fairly normal. It's a bizarre situation. 

Sadly, the situation in Freetown is getting worse with today's report revealing 1001 confirmed cases in the Western Area district (Freetown and outskirts). It is concerning that this might be the tip of the iceberg since it only includes cases reporting to a health facility. Since isolation beds are full, sick people are often turned away at the gate and forced to go back home meaning they aren't tested for the disease yet and they can further spread Ebola at home if that is what they have. As beds open up, sick people are transferred to a facility or someone waiting outside the gate may be lucky to get in. In an overcrowded urban setting, numbers are going to increase exponentially. I fear that Ebola will not only be a continuous part of daily life as people take precautions, but it will become a real life event for many people who will lose family members and colleagues to this dreadful disease, not to mention to other diseases due to the lack of healthcare in the country at the moment. In contrast to the USA, where the chance of someone knowing a person infected with Ebola (much less die of Ebola) is very small, for people in Freetown, the likelihood is far greater.

At the Children's hospital on Friday we received results back from the Ebola lab and had to transfer three confirmed Ebola patients to the treatment centre in Hastings. Two were mothers whose children died in the isolation unit in the hospital earlier in the week. And the third was a little boy who was admitted to the isolation unit 9 days ago. The ambulance arrived and while hospital staff put on full protective suits to escort the mothers to the vehicle, a father walked with his son in his arms from the isolation unit to the ambulance. It was heartbreaking to watch the father lift his 6 year old son into the back of an ambulance not knowing if/when he would see him again. I cannot imagine what he was feeling. I felt sorry for one of the ladies who looked terrified as they were lifting her in. She has already lost her toddler and now she was being taken to a place she does not know or understand by people in full protective suits. 

On Friday I witnessed the impact of Ebola on three families, but many more families out there will experience similar tragedies. Unfortunately the case numbers seem to be increasing at a faster pace than we can contain it. Efforts are being made to improve contact tracing, case identification, case management (isolation, testing, treatment) and dead body management (safe burials) but it is complex.    Basically we need to achieve 70% safe burials and 70% isolation nationwide to see transmission reduce. I hope that somehow the situation will start to improve with more relief efforts on the ground and we will begin to see a decline in numbers. I just feel like we don't have much time to wait! Thankfully in the East of Sierra Leone cases have decreased from a high of 50 per week to 4 per week. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Welbodi Partnership’s Emergency Ebola appeal...

I waited with this appeal until there was some more certainty as to how Welbodi Partnership will continue its response to the Ebola outbreak. We have a small team of national staff on the ground and I plan to return to Freetown soon to resume my role with Welbodi at the Children’s hospital.

I will spend the first week doing a needs assessment, discussing with hospital staff and partner organisations to see what the needs are and how Welbodi can help fill some of the gaps. This may include coordination and logistics and making sure that ‘general’ medical care can be provided to children who do not have Ebola, while ensuring staff safety. At the same time we want to work towards a long-term goal of health system strengthening – improving standards at the hospital to improve the quality of health care delivery and so that outbreaks like this can be prevented and contained in the future.

We simply cannot know with certainty what will be needed a few days from now, let alone months down the line, as Sierra Leone works to contain and then recover from this outbreak. What we do know is that the principles by which we have always operated—particularly the principles of partnership, and our recognition that health facility staff are often the best judges of what kinds of support they need—still hold during this emergency and its aftermath.

We are therefore raising an emergency fund to support initiatives proposed and implemented by staff on the ground. We will work with staff to develop and implement these ideas, and will coordinate with the MOHS and with other NGO partners, particularly those with expertise in Ebola prevention and control.  We envision that these initiatives might include efforts to train health personnel in infection control, provide protective equipment, improve the waste management system, provide other supplies needed to promote infection prevention on the wards or in areas such as the laboratory and pharmacy and contribute to the general improvement of the hospital. In the long run, there will be a great need for strengthening health systems and rebuilding trust in the health facilities and among communities.

We would be grateful for your support—whether by donating funds or spreading the word. You can donate online here, or contact us to find out how you can help.

Thank you.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~