Pharmacy professionals in Sierra Leone dead following Ebola outbreak

August 13, 2014

Reports received by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) specify that a pharmacist and four pharmacy technicians from the community practice setting in Sierra Leone have died as a result of the Ebola virus outbreak. Another report from Sierra Leone’s pharmacy board noted that a pharmacy technician who was working in a community pharmacy in Kenema has died.

Reports received by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) specify that a pharmacist and four pharmacy technicians from the community practice setting in Sierra Leone have died as a result of the Ebola virus outbreak. Another report from Sierra Leone’s pharmacy board noted that a pharmacy technician who was working in a community pharmacy in Kenema has died.

The Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone is working to educate pharmacy professionals on basic prevention, identification, and referral of suspected cases, as the public has been reluctant to go to the hospital and clinics because of healthcare workers being infected with the Ebola virus. The pharmacy board also has launched a public campaign on preventive measures on the proper use of chlorine-containing preparations and other disinfectants against the virus, according to FIP.

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“We realized that the general public was wrongly mixing the chlorine and thereby exposing themselves to the toxic effects of the chlorine or having too little of the chlorine in the mixture,” said a pharmacy board member. “Currently we have teams going around town and teaching the general public on how to properly mix the chlorine for public hand washing.”

 

In Liberia, pharmacies have been flooded with patrons seeking medicines following a second outbreak of the Ebola virus. The Liberia Medicine and Health Regulatory Authority is continuing its efforts with an awareness campaign directed at pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the country. In addition, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana has also stepped up to warn pharmacist about Ebola virus symptoms.

“Pharmacists, as the first point of care for many people, have an important role to play in such emergencies, not only in terms of vigilance but also on a wider scale such as raising awareness and knowledge and providing advice to travellers,” said Luc Besancon, CEO and general secretary of FIP.

The World Health Organization has provided a fact sheet about the disease, its transmission, and prevention, which can be useful for pharmacists to provide to travellers.

For more information, go to www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/en/