In support of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has opened a five-day Training of Trainers (TOT) of social workers and mental Health clinicians across Liberia.
At the opening of the workshop yesterday at the Corinna Hotel in Sinkor, the Deputy Representative, Dr. Fazlul Haque, said the training is intended to provide the relevant skills and ability to roll out the needed psychosocial services to meet the needs of the Ebola-affected communities.
“We are fully delighted to provide support to the government of Liberia to train these social workers and mental health clinicians of various counties to ensure that we meet the necessary needs of affected communities,” Dr. Haque stated.
He noted that Liberia is in a serious state of national health crisis; so are Guinea and Sierra Leone, with all schools being closed, causing children sitting home; and civil services operating with essential staff only.
The workshop brought together over 25 social workers and mental health clinicians of Bomi, Maryland, Margibi, Bong, Grand Gedeh and Montserrado counties, among others, to be trained and help fight the epidemic.
The UNICEF executive underlined health services as the key response of government and other partners to combating the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia and West Africa at large.
According to him, there is at the moment a pressing need to scale up the work modalities in providing more Ebola treatment facilities in other parts of the country to help kick the epidemic out of Liberia.
“There are currently over 2,500 suspected, probable and confirmed cases of the deadly Ebola virus with 1,349 deaths (making it the highest in the sub-region) since the outbreak of the virus in West Africa,” he said.
He explained that, children who have lost their parent to Ebola are now in an extremely vulnerable position and unable to access the usual community support due to stigma and fear of people catching the disease.
Dr. Haque said, “Children confirmed cases recorded are 15%, all fatalities recorded are children; while 75% of confirmed cases are women. Mothers, as primary caregivers, are more likely to get infected.”
According to the Deputy Representative, Liberia can only fight the disease “if we are fully prepared with the right information, right tools and the commitment to win. You have to take the responsibility as duty bearers and service providers working with closely community members and leaders to win the fight.”
He urged the public and other partners to commit themselves to ensure that the community will not stop taking positive action to safe guard children and their families until the country is free of the virus.
Urging the social workers and mental health clinicians, Mr. Haque said psychosocial support is needed for the children who are affected, children with family members affected, patients in quarantine, patients suffering from Ebola, health workers caring for patients and community members.
Other partners who also attended the workshop were those from World Health Organization (WHO), Mrs. Vivian Cherue from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and students from various colleges and universities in Liberia.