New Ebola treatment centre opened in Sierra Leone

Jari Lindholm
There are eight Finnish Red Cross aid workers in Sierra Leone at the moment.
Image: Jari Lindholm

A new International Red Cross Ebola treatment centre has been opened in Kono, in eastern Sierra Leone. The Finnish Red Cross sent three aid workers to work in treatment to Kono.

The aid workers will increase the number of workers sent to the Ebola operation by the Finnish Red Cross to 31. At the moment, there are eight Finnish aid workers in Sierra Leone: four in Kono, three in Kenema, and one in Port Loko.

The new Ebola treatment centre was established due to a change in the need for help. The number of those infected by Ebola has decreased in Kenema, where a Red Cross Ebola treatment centre has operated since September 2014. Meanwhile, there is a great number of infected persons in Kono.

According to the WHO, one new Ebola case was reported in Kenema in the first week of 2015, while Kono had 32 cases that week. The new treatment centre can first receive 20 patients, but there is potential for doubling the places for patients.

– The basic principles of the treatment centre are the same as those in Kenema, but we have aimed to improve and fine-tune the operations according to the experiences from Kenema, says Tiina Saarikoski, the Finnish Red Cross healthcare adviser working in Kono.

The Finnish Red Cross continues the fight against Ebola

The Finnish Red Cross has been strongly involved in the initiation and the operations of the Ebola treatment centres. The centre established in Kono is supported by the logistics and communications units sent jointly by the Finnish and Danish Red Cross organisations.

The units left for Sierra Leone on 16 December 2014. The logistics unit is responsible for logistics, including the procurement and transportation chain of goods. The communications unit is responsible for local IT services, radio traffic and international satellite communication connections. The Finnish Red Cross is responsible for the management and materials of both units. The operations are funded with the Disaster Relief Fund and with the humanitarian aid from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Finnish Red Cross aid workers have been in the countries suffering from Ebola since April 2014. The Finnish Red Cross has also sent 48,000 kilograms of clothing aid to Sierra Leone. The clothes have been distributed to the infected and their families and friends because the clothes of the infected are burned.

The Ebola epidemic is the worst in history. According to the WHO (9 January 2015), there have been 21,086 cases, with 8,289 deaths among them. The situation is the most serious in Sierra Leone, where there have been 10,030 cases and 2,997 deaths, according to the WHO.