Ebola preparedness

Health workers share their experiences

Lulutani Tembo
UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds

14 January 2020

In 2019 UK Aid provided the Government of Malawi £478,000 for Ebola preparedness, prevention work, and supplies.  The funding has helped to equip health workers with essential skills to deal with Ebola cases, and provided hospitals with medical equipment and drugs for Ebola prevention.

In Karonga district 172 people were trained on Ebola preparedness and prevention. This included clinicians, nurses’, doctors and health surveillance assistants who work in the villages and Songwe Border.

UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds
Mallious holding some of the medicines bought with funding from UK Aid

Mallious Mkandawire, has been a nurse at Karonga District hospital since 2014. He is one of the beneficiaries of the Ebola training and is part of the rapid response team in the district. Mallious gained a lot of knowledge and skills from the Ebola training which enabled him to deal with a suspected case that occurred in the district.

"When we had the suspected case, I was able to apply all the special procedures that we need to follow to ensure we (health workers) don’t get infected. I also checked the patient’s vital signs, blood pressure and pulse rate. Apart from the suspected case, we had a simulation exercise to prepare us further”, explains Mallious. “Now I’m more than ready if there is an outbreak because I have learnt a lot.

UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds
Health workers in the pharmacy storing the some of the UK Aid donated supplies

The pharmacy at Karonga district hospital stores the medicines and supplies that the district recieved. They include; personal protective equipment, overalls, goggles, face mask, beds, gumboots, aprons, face shields, antibiotics, injection materials, shringes among others.

UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds
Mallious by the suspected case section in the Ebola treatment room. The beds were also donated by UK Aid.

Suspected cases have their own designated section in the Ebola treatment room. The beds were also donated by UK Aid.

UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds
The Ebola treatment room at Karonga District Hospital

The Ebola treatment unit is strategically located in isolation to other areas of Karonga district hospital. The treatment unit is the second largest in the northern region after Mzuzu.

UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds
Ebola screening is done daily at the major border posts in the country

Mr. Kayila is a health surveillance assistant stationed at Songwe Border. He conducts ebola screening of people coming through the border.  Above him are the ‘Standard Operating Procedures for Ebola’ for awareness, which he uses when screening travellers.

UNICEF Malawi/2019/Moving Minds
Health surveillance assistants like Mwabi are helping to raise awareness in local communities

Another Ebola trained health surveillance assistant, Mwabi Mwahimba, has been doing sensitization and awareness activities on Ebola in a number of communities in Karonga. “We do drama activities and lectures at community gatherings such as funerals and village meetings on how people can prevent Ebola, how they can protect themselves from it, and how they should refrain from receiving illegal immigrants who haven’t been screened”, says Mwabi. “We also tell them that signs of Ebola are similar to other diseases like malaria, so they should always go to the hospital for diagnosis and avoid self-medicating”.

The hope is to ensure that Malawi remains Ebola free.