Sustained Strengthening of Public Health Laboratory, Transfusion Services and Health Care Worker Infection Control Practices for Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia

Investigator: Kayla Enriquez, MD, MPH
Sponsor: Univ of Massachusetts Medical School

Location(s): Liberia


Liberia is one of three West African nations most heavily affected by the Ebola virus disease (EVD). During the onset of EVD outbreak in Liberia, many hospitals and clinics were closed. As these facilities reopen it is imperative that the health care system receive support to strengthen infection prevention and control, laboratory and blood services to ensure health care worker and patient safety and to improve health care services.The first component of this project will support infection prevention and control activities in hospitals and health centers. Throughout the outbreak, health care workers (HCW) have been of the highest risk groups for contracting EVD with over 360 cases and 170 fatalities reported in this high-risk group in Liberia alone. As the number of EVD cases drops and regular health services resume, HCWs must remain vigilant to ensure that they are able to appropriately triage suspected EVD patients while protecting themselves from possible exposure and to provide adequate care for non-EVD illnesses. This award will implement comprehensive Infection Prevention Control (IPC) training, as well as support and monitoring for Health Care Workers across Liberia.The second component of the project focuses on strengthening public health laboratory capacity through the provision of the equipment, consumables, mentoring and training for laboratory technicians needed to strengthen laboratory testing capacity. This strengthened capacity will ensure more rapid diagnosis for EVD and other common illnesses in hospital laboratories thus improving overall care. A major challenge has been differentiating the diagnosis of Ebola which has non-specific initial symptoms such fever, vomiting, diarrhea from more common everyday diseases such as malaria, viral illnesses, or complicated pregnancy. Direct Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing and other diagnostics within the hospital laboratory setting can play a crucial role in allowing patients with Ebola to be isolated for care more rapidly and to improve care for all patients.The third component of the project will strengthen blood transfusion services for the country of Liberia by providing training and direct technical assistance to improve blood collection and storage processes. These improvements will increase the availability of life saving transfusions for those in need.