Sierra Leone: IOM Partners with Government to Launch a new project to strengthen COVID-19 Response at Points of Entry
Freetown - On 25th March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Sierra Leone launched a new $1.3 Million project to support COVID-19 response at Points of Entry (POEs).
The Project “Strengthening Health System Capacity, Preparedness and Resilience in COVID-19 Affected Points of Entry with Sierra Leone Diaspora” funded by the Government of Japan aims at reinforcing capacities for COVID-19 prevention and response, especially at prioritized POEs. It also targets surrounding community health facilities through technical support, and the provision of supplies and equipment for health screening, testing, and other infection prevention control (IPC).
The lack of adequate capacities at POEs to effectively stop the spread of COVID-19 across borders still poses challenges to the pandemic's overall response efforts in the country. Now that Sierra Leone has reopened its borders with Guinea after several months of closures, there is a crucial need to ramp up preparedness and response to prevent other possible outbreaks and promote safe cross-border mobility.
“The one-year project will also support the modification of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for frontline officials and tailored capacity-building trainings to strengthen preparedness and response efforts to the COVID-l9 outbreak at frequently used points of entry in Sierra Leone, including the Freetown International Airport (FNA) and land borders”. said Akao Kunikazu, Project Manager at IOM Sierra Leone.
Since Sierra Leone registered it first case of COVID-19 in March 2020, IOM has been supporting the Government’s COVID-19 response at POEs, including FNA with the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation (SLCAA), conducting risk communication and community engagement in border communities and crowded urban settlement.
“The new project will contribute to heighten COVID-19 response efforts by addressing the most critical public health needs at major points of entry”, added IOM’s Akao Kunikazu.
The Ambassador of Japan to Sierra Leone, His excellency Tsutomu Himeno stated that “the project was supported by the Government of Japan based on the good bilateral relationship of the two countries and the importance of the project to human health, safety and security”.
“If points of entry are well capacitated, it will facilitate the interaction of visit, enable people to travel around the world and do business safely”, Tsutomu Himeno, Japan’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone.
Dr Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation said: “Key in the global health agenda and International health regulation is the movement of people, so over the years IOM has been working with Government in strengthening health capacity at POEs including building the capacity of ‘Frontliners’ to prevent the spread of disease outbreaks”. “Neighboring Guinea currently has an ongoing outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), so as of now we are in the state of readiness and preparedness for not only COVID-19, but other outbreaks. Therefore, this project is being rolled out at the right time to strengthen capacity of POEs”, he added.
In the targeted communities, IOM will refurbish POEs infrastructure (water supply and power generation) to improve IPC and organize short term diaspora medical missions to provide health services to COVID-19 response in hard to reach border communities.
For more information, please contact Dr James Bagonza, Head of Office IOM Sierra Leone, Email [email protected]; Tel : +23276466371 or Akao Kunikazu Project Manager, Email: [email protected]; Tel: +23299606007.