The 43rd Annual General Assembly of the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) was held at the Lagoonda Complex Cape Road Aberdeen Freetown on the 15th & 16th of November 2019 with the theme “Global Health Security, Sierra Leone’s Perspective.”
In the wake of the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak, global health security has taken on a new level of importance. The launch of Sierra Leone national action plan for health security in 2019 was welcomed but if we are to address the complexity of these challenges, effective collaboration between government, international partners, health associations, private sector and military in needed.
In 2005, the resolutions WHA 58.3 adopted International Health Regulations (IHR). It entered into force on 15 June 2007 in accordance with Article 59, replacing IHR (1969). It is legally binding for WHO 196 Member States and includes all 47 WHO Member States in the African region.
The purpose and scope of IHR (2005) (article 2) include:To Prevent, Protect against, Control and provide public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic.
Breakout sessions for Medical Superintendents and Medical officers on Verbal Autopsy and Physician coding was conducted by the COMSA (Countrywide Mortality Surveillance for action team.
Poster Presentations on Lassa fever, measles, rubella, seizures and blood service delivery and quality of care were part of the agenda
To access to all presentations from the 43rd Annual Congress and Scientific Sessions of the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association follow this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cOyWUUoYR7R5p8x3z7x3Jftj_EITMZDB
Recommendations: from session 5 Panel Discussion: New Approaches for global Health Security/ Where Next?
1. The national action plan for health security (NAPHS) and other Guidance strategies and frameworks/tools employed by the WHO must be accessible for all doctors. This can be shared on the SLMDA WhatsApp forum, website or via a mobile application.
2. Establishment of National Public Health Agency (NPHA)
3. Comprehensively strengthen the public health system to predict, prevent, detect, respond and control disease.
4. More effectively integrate evidence in policy and decision making; This could ensure compliance with national and international standards.
5. Doctors had limited knowledge of the surveillance structure (IDSR) in place in their respective Government hospitals; therefore, various DHMT’s and hospital managements must ensure that various contact persons are known to medical personnel to ensure compliance. Private hospitals or facilities should also be included in IDSR report structure.
6. The last Joint Evaluation Assessment done identified deficiencies in the 4 core areas especially in Workforce development and emergency response. Professional Bodies such as the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association must partner with government and other NGO’s, to ensure frontline healthcare workers receive regular refresher training on GHSA and IHR.
7. To reach the WHO/GHSA goal of at least 1 epidemiologist/200,000 population, the FETP program launched in 2016 must be scaled up to include frontline, intermediate and advanced levels with clearly defined career pathways for FETP graduates. It must be Integrated within Ministry of Health and Sanitation program structure for sustainability. A Team approach must be employed and include Medical Doctors, Nurses, Veterinary, Laboratory, Environmental health professionals Disease control and surveillance officers.
8. Simulation exercises could be conducted yearly to assess emergency response to a public health emergency. Hospitals must also have a major incident plan and drills conducted yearly.
9. After action evaluations must be conducted and report communicated to all players involved to assess progress, discuss strategy to improve Sierra Leone’s JEE scores.
10. The SLMDA must be represented in the weekly briefings at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
11. Ensure strategic use of resources to meet national public health priorities including effective coordination of donor funding.
12. COMSA’s Verbal autopsy and Physician coding training was a success and must be scaled up include doctors and healthcare workers countrywide.