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Written by Dr Trina Helderman, Senior Health & Nutrition Advisor for Medair’s Global Emergency Response Team
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In mid-2014, following a three-and-a-half-year stint working with Medair in South Sudan, I was at home for a few months to rest. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was escalating and I remember thinking ‘I really need to get some sleep and recover quickly because I should be responding to this outbreak.’
This short paper outlines priorities for successful and sustainable community-based health systems:
Community engagement is crucial for getting to zero on Ebola. The governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea must continue to prioritise and resource this. We must ensure that lessons are learned and embedded for future Ebola outbreaks.
Meet Elizabeth, 25, and her sister Salimatou, 22. They work in Medair’s Ebola isolation unit in Sierra Leone, and they are among the survivors of this terrible epidemic.
In a matter of weeks this past fall, they lost their mother and father, their grandmother, and a brother and sister. Most heartbreaking of all, Salimatou lost her four-year-old daughter Sarata. The Ebola virus robbed them of more than half their family.
Medair opened an isolation centre on a football field in Kuntorloh, an eastern suburb of the country’s capital of Freetown in Western Urban District, on 9 January 2015. The area has been one of the worst hit by Ebola, and was identified by the National Ebola Response Centre as an Ebola “hot spot”.
Since the centre opened, Medair has admitted 94 people suspected and confirmed of contracting the virus. Until recently, the centre was operating as a holding unit, identifying Ebola cases, screening them, beginning treatment and referring them to nearby hospitals.
Despite a downward trend of Ebola cases in Sierra Leone, the west of the country still remains vulnerable to the disease.
Medair has opened an isolation centre on a football field in Kuntorloh, an eastern suburb of the country’s capital of Freetown in Western Urban District. The area has been one of the worst hit by Ebola, and was identified by the National Ebola Response Centre as an Ebola “hot spot”.
Medair is collaborating with Lifeline Nehemiah Project, a local community development team, to support quarantined households and to provide community health training in Kontorlah, an eastern suburb of the country’s capital of Freetown.
The area is one of the worst hit by Ebola, and has been identified by the National Ebola Response Centre as an Ebola “hot spot”.