Press Release

Ebola: UNFPA in the Democratic Republic of the Congo intensifies Ebola protection trainings as move to stop Ebola transmission in maternities

30 October 2019
Midwives in training at BÉNI in North Kivu

Beni, October 30th, 2019. In its efforts to strengthen the Ebola Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) intensifies training of obstetrical personnel, especially midwives while reinforcing the extensive supervision system of medical staff. Some 180 midwives and other maternity staff (doctors, birth attendants) from more than 150 health facilities are already trained in Ituri and North Kivu to ensure safe delivery without any risk of transmission of the Ebola virus.

 

 

Through this initiative, UNFPA is targeting a total of 400 midwives in more than 300 health facilities where every day a team of midwifery supervisors will go from maternity to maternity to mentor their peers and strengthen infection prevention and control measures in the provinces of North-Kivu and Ituri.

 

To meet its ambition aimed at eliminating all preventable maternal deaths and achieve the goal of zero Ebola transmission in maternity hospitals, UNFPA together with the Congolese Ministry of Health and the national coordination structure of the Ebola virus disease(EVD) response team, is working to ensure that care providers are able to apply all the preventive measures against all forms of Ebola infection during the provision of family planning as well as maternal health services which include antenatal consultations, labor surveillance, childbirth and postnatal care. The initiative is also meant to improve standards of waste management in maternity hospitals. In line with this, a series of trainings of health personnel are being conducted.

 

According to Dr Monique KAPAMBA, a National Reproductive Health Program Expert and trainer, obstetric and gynecological services constitute a high-risk environment for transmission of EVD. She mentioned that: “Obstetric care and more specifically childbirth, an act of giving new life, carry a very high risk of virus transmission through the body fluids of the parturients (blood, amniotic fluids). In maternity wards, pregnant women and newborns are potentially vulnerable to EVD due to their weakened immune system through pregnancy, hence it is important to strengthen preventive measures in maternity hospitals located in the Ebola affected areas”.

 

Infection Prevention and Control activities in a gynecological and obstetrical environment, such as setting up of yards and isolation zones, compliance with the IPC standards during the delivery etc., play a critical role in breaking the chain of transmission of the virus. She concluded that " supervision of the IPC activities in the maternity wards is crucial for the effective implementation of the complete minimum package of the IPC.

 

The capacity building of midwives and birth attendants in IPC is being conducted to support the Government efforts to curb the trend of the Ebola infection. Some of the trained personnel will serve as IPC focal points in their respective maternities while the others will become supervisors in their health zones.

 

According to Dr Polycarpe Takou, the UNFPA-DRC Humanitarian Coordinator and UNFPA response coordinator for the EVD response, "These trainings of medical doctors, gynecologists, midwives and birth attendants are the materialization of UNFPA's commitment to support the implementation of the current national strategic plan against EVD. The aim is to ensure that application of preventive measures become a normal attitude the health personnel would develop. That is why we put in place a system of regular supervision of these trained personnel to monitor the change of attitude. In addition to the trainings and related supervisions, UNFPA provides maternities with the necessary equipment to ensure full implementation of IPC measures in order to make them Ebola free places. 'These initiatives are complementary to the refurbishment and equipment of some maternities in hot spots areas (Mangina, Beni, and soon in Katwa) and contribute to a resilient health system.”

 

UNFPA's approach is very much appreciated by the General Coordinator of the EVD response, Professor Steve Ahuka, who noted that "The Ebola Virus Epidemic (EVD) is not sparing anyone. Pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as health personnel operating in maternity wards need protection and UNFPA’s activities are helping to achieve this.  Ensuring compliance with infection prevention and control measures in maternity hospitals is an effective strategy which contributes to the efforts of the national coordination structure to cut the chain of transmission of this terrible disease”

 

The Ministry of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in the East of the country on 1st August 2018.

 

As of October 28th, 2019, the disease has claimed 2,143 lives from the 3,268 confirmed cases registered while 1,039 cases are healed.

 

It has been clearly established that the needs of women and children have not been adequately addressed in the previous three strategies. As the country is implementing the fourth strategy, the focus on the prevention and control of infection in maternity wards is seen an innovative approach.

 

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For more information, contact:

Dr. Polycarpe Takou, Humanitarian Action Coordinator UNFPA-DRC,

Tel: +243 810604424; Email: takou@unfpa.org

 

Press and Media :

Théophane Patinvoh, Communication Specialist, UNFPA RDC,

Tél: +243817288060; Email :  patinvoh@unfpa.org

 

Siaka Traoré, Team Leader Communication, UNFPA RDC

Tél: +243818707688; Email :  traore@unfpa.org