Sierra Leone Red Cross society (SLRCS) through its Community Epidemic, Pandemic and Preparedness Program (CP3) engages communities on a regular basis on preparedness and prevention mechanisms against epidemic prone diseases, with technical and financial support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Funded by USAID, CP3 is mainly operative in three chiefdoms within two districts: Tonko Limba in Kambia, Kissy Teng and Koindu in Kailahun.
Over the years, Sierra Leone has experienced severe outbreaks of cholera that occur during the rainy season (from May to October) and are related to heavy rains which cause flooding and contamination of water sources. Every district in the country is affected by these outbreaks; that is why it was imperative for the CP3 to extend the Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) Training (that was conducted in Kambia and Port Loko in May 2020) to four more districts (Koinadugu, Kono, Kailahun and Pujehun) while hoping to also extend it further.
The purpose of the training was to strengthen the capacity of volunteers in cholera prone areas so that they will be able to provide first aid treatment to people with notable signs and symptoms of diarrhea before any medical professional intervention. 100 Community Based Volunteers, 25 each were trained in Koinadugu, Kono, Kailahun and Pujehun.
Opening the session in Koinadugu Branch was Vice President of Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, Hawa Conteh. She encouraged volunteers to keep on the good work and pay attention to this all important training on Oral Rehydration Therapy. She also showed her appreciation to the team from Freetown and Kambia and declared the training open.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation was duly represented in every branch, with each representative making a statement of appreciation for the tremendous effort of the Society in ensuring cholera awareness is raised within communities through the trainings volunteers receive and translate into lifesaving information.
The MoHS representative from Koinadugu stated; “Going back from here, I’ll take the message to the ministry that Red Cross is indeed giving us the support needed to fight off cholera. Because red cross volunteers hail from different communities, they can give support to the community PHUs with what they’ve learnt.”
The CP3 Manager IFRC, Swaray Lengor highlighted the importance of extending the CP3 program to other districts; “With support from the IFRC regional headquarter, we were able to extend the cholera trainings to four more districts; Koinadugu, Kono, Kailahun and Pujehun; to enhance the fight against the disease. At the end of the day, each volunteer trained would be connected to the health officials in their community PHU to give the support needed.”
The facilitators, Branch Manager (BM), Dominic Dumbuya of Kambia Branch and Field Health Officer (FHO) Sylvester Momodu of Moyamba Branch, both of whom had received training on preventives of cholera in Nairobi, thoroughly educated volunteers in all four districts both in theory and practical measures on how to prevent and/or provide first aid treatment for cholera.
The training lasted for 2 days in each of the 4 branches starting on the 9th June 2021; volunteers were capacitated on; how to deliver messages on cholera awareness, and need for early, how to assess the severity of dehydration and either provide ORS (oral rehydration solutions) treatment at community level or referral to health center for severe cases, how to prepare ORS locally, regularly report on suspect cases to the health facility and the Red Cross branch, and can alert in case of suspicion of a cholera outbreak.