Find out more about Ebola, the deadly haemorrhagic
disease currently gripping West Africa

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Ebola update - August 18th 2014

MSF is currently responding to the recent outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The disease originated in southern Guinea in March 2014 and has since spread to many parts of west Africa.

Sierra Leone is a country still recovering from civil unrest. Even before the current emergency, it struggled to meet the basic health needs of its people, let alone a major health emergency of this scale. In Sierra Leone there are only 0.2 doctors per 10,000 people, well below the West African average of 2.6 per 10,000.

MSF currently runs an 80 bed Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun, near the border with Guinea and is in the process of building an isolation centre in Bo.

On top of this, MSF has employed almost 300 community health workers to educate communities in infection prevention methods and raise the public's awareness of the disease.

In total, MSF treatment centres in Sierra Leone have admitted 294 patients of which 191 were confirmed to have Ebola. So far 47 patients have made a full recovery and been allowed to return home.

Find out more about MSF's response to the Ebola outbreak

Background: 2013

This is an extract from our latest Activity Report, looking back on our work in the previous year.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has begun reorienting its work to focus on improving medical care for children and its capacity for diagnosing Lassa fever.

More than a decade has passed since the end of the civil war, but Sierra Leone is still recovering.

Healthcare gaps

Healthcare gaps are systemic and nationwide, and access to quality healthcare remains a major challenge for the population.

Although the government initiative offering free healthcare to pregnant women and children is improving access, many people still die from treatable diseases such as malaria, measles, acute respiratory infection and Lassa fever, a viral haemorrhagic fever endemic in the country. 

Dr Zhou Wei, MSF paediatrician from China, examines patient Abubakar Sow, 40-days-old, in the neonatal ward of Gondama Referral Centre, Bo, Sierra Leone.

Gondama referral centre

In Bo district, MSF runs the Gondama referral centre, a 220-bed hospital offering emergency paediatric and obstetric services.

In 2013, ambulances transported patients from nine community health centres to the hospital, and an additional ambulance service took patients with Lassa fever to Kenema hospital for treatment.

MSF also supports Gondama health centre, a nearby clinic run by the Ministry of Health, with staff, medicines and medical materials.

MSF plans to build a 160-bed hospital closer to Bo town that will provide better access for patients, staff and supplies.

The new, more spacious facility will also allow for better infection control protocols, and will include a proper isolation ward and a modern laboratory.

At the end of 2013, MSF had 619 staff in Sierra Leone. MSF has worked in the country since 1986.

Patient story

Jenneba, 26 years old

“This is my third pregnancy. I have had two miscarriages before. Last night I felt pain, so an ambulance picked me up from the health centre and took me to Gondama. The nurse in the ambulance held my hand and talked to me nicely during the ride.

The nurses at the hospital examined me and said that I wasn’t in labour yet. I am still in pain and very worried about what is happening. If I lose this baby, I am worried that my husband will leave me.”

Jenneba’s son was born by caesarean section 10 days later.

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