Mercy Ships has launched the first of several eLearning training courses in basic safety and well-being. These courses, in both French and English, highlight our commitment to our West African colleagues and partners who are facing COVID-19.

The first course was titled The Heart of the Caregiver; a 1.5-hour interactive session which will be followed up with additional eLearning options as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds in Africa. The course was led by Dr Lyn Westman, Mental Health Consultant and Glenn Strauss, MD, the Mercy Ships Director of Medical Capacity Building.

“Access to those working at the front line has never been more important as health care and mental health providers, as well as pastoral caregivers, struggle to deal with the pandemic. eLearning tools have given us a new way to make sure our colleagues are connected with the critical information and training resources they need,” said Dr Strauss.

Professionals involved in this initial course included key workers from nations Mercy Ships has worked with during our 30 years within Africa and involved professionals from Liberia, Togo, Benin, DR Congo and Cameroon working in areas ranging from mental health, community health training, psychiatric care, and hospital services.

The participants discussed strategies for maintaining personal safety and mental well-being and had the opportunity to discuss issues within their settings and set their own goals for improvement while encouraging others in practical applications.

“This is a critical time to support both the mental, emotional as well as physical health of our West African colleagues as they are on the frontline of preparation within their national healthcare situations. It is important that they know they are not alone during this time when news of the virus in other parts of the world has created so much fear,” said Dr Westman.

Across the continent, African health care professionals are working hard on strategies to contain the pandemic that has collapsed parts of healthcare systems in even the strongest developed countries, despite these countries having more resources, access to clean water and well-established and widespread hygiene measures in place.

New estimates released in May by the World Health Organisation suggest that unless controlled, the numbers within the African continent could rise dramatically to 190,000 deaths in the first year. Read the article here.

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