Børge Brende takes precaution during his visit to Sierra Leone. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
Børge Brende was in Sierra Leone on Wednesday to visit some of the Norwegian volunteers helping battle the outbreak of the ebola virus.
Norway's Foriegn Minister met nurses Zainab, 28, and Mariama, 30, at a volunteer health training centre in Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital.
Brende was on hand to see how the training of health workers is going. He even went through the painstaking process of putting an Ebola protective suit on and off, and was duly reminded when he didn’t keep his hands in the correct position.
“It shows how thorough they are about doing everything correctly,” said Brende to NTB.
Zainab said: “I admit that in the beginning I was afraid.”
Mariama said: “We get very good instruction here, so I'm not afraid anymore. All of us need to help all we can in order to stop the Ebola epidemic.”
The training centre is in a sports facility in Freetown. There, local doctors, nurses and other health workers receive training in how to handle Ebola patients without getting infected. An important part of the training is dressing and undressing with the suits.
Christina, an instructor at the centre, said: “The big problem the first time after the outbreak of the epidemic, was that doctors and nurses didn't have enough knowledge or equipment. That was the reason why so many health workers themselves became infected. Now people get sufficient training, and fewer are thereby infected.”
Christina showed Brende and a group of doctors and nurses how they must wear the white suits in the correct way. It is a complicated process and very important to avoid being careless. Carelessness can mean death.
Brende commented: “It is a very detailed procedure, but necessary. It shows how important it is to be careful with the routines. The important thing is to follow all routines, so that one gets control over the outbreak and can stop the epidemic.”
At Ebola clinics in Sierra Leone and other countries hit by the Ebola epidemic such as Liberia and Guinea, health workers can change their protective suits up to three times during an eight hour shift. It can often take a whole hour to don a suit on and remove it again