CDC Country Director and Deputy for Programs Visit to Wilkins Hospital Ebola Ward

City of Harare's Department of Health staff during Dr. Kilmarx's visit to Wilkins Hospital
City of Harare’s Department of Health staff during Dr. Kilmarx’s visit to Wilkins Hospital

CDC leverages its core strengths to advance four overarching global health goals: 1) improving the health and well-being of people around the world, 2) improving capabilities for preparing for and responding to infectious diseases and emerging health threats, 3) building country public health capacity, and 4) maximizing organizational capacity. (To learn more about these goals and our vision, see CDC’s Global Health Strategy.)

Our global programs are run by world leaders in epidemiology, surveillance, informatics, laboratory systems, and other essential disciplines. Through partnerships with other countries’ ministries of health, CDC is improving the quantity and quality of critical public health services.

At the invitation of Dr. Prosper Chonzi, Director of the City of Harare Health Department, Dr. Peter Kilmarx, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Zimbabwe Country Director and Dr. Panganai Dhliwayo, Deputy for Programs, visited the Ebola Ward at Wilkins Hospital on December 16, 2014. Wilkins Hospital is one of the four designated Ebola isolation facilities in Zimbabwe. Dr. Kilmarx is a specialist in infectious diseases and led the CDC Ebola  Response Team in Sierra Leone in September and October 2014. The visitors met with hospital director Dr. Hilda Bara, Chief Matron Nyoni, and members of their staff. Together they walked through the Ebola ward and reviewed policies and procedures on patient triage, patient flow, isolation, use and stocks of personal protective equipment, and other infection prevention and control issues. Overall, the visitors were very impressed with the hospital staff members’ level of knowledge and preparedness. They did not identify any errors or have any specific recommendations. Dr. Kilmarx underscored a key finding from a recent CDC publication he authored on Ebola in health care workers in Sierra Leone (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6349a6.htm);

many health care worker infections are due to administrative errors in patient triage and not due to failure or personal protective equipment. An Ebola unit must be run with very strict attention to flow of patients and personnel and very strict adherence to infection prevention and control practices. The visitors came away with a sense of confidence in the Ebola preparations of Wilkins Hospital and the City of Harare Health Department. Dr. Kilmarx is returning to Sierra Leone for another month in January, but promised to respond to any questions that come up from Wilkins Hospital or the City of Harare Health Department.