- Sierra Leone: Mudslides - Aug 2017
- Sierra Leone: Floods - Sep 2015
- West Africa: Ebola Outbreak - Mar 2014
- Sierra Leone: Wild Fires - Jan 2013
- Sierra Leone/Guinea: Cholera Outbreak - Feb 2012
- West/Central Africa: Floods - Jun 2010
- West Africa: Floods - Jul 2009
- Sierra Leone: Floods and Landslides - Aug 2009
- Sierra Leone: Floods - Sep 2007
- West Africa: Floods - Jul 2007
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE — With the recent Ebola crisis, officials in Sierra Leone have seen a rise in mental health concerns. Mustapha Kallon's problems are typical. He survived Ebola but lost many family members during the epidemic.
"Whenever I think of my parents, I feel depressed," he said.
Kallon said he turned to alcohol to cope with his grief. He was still receiving care in the Ebola treatment unit when his parents died from the virus. He didn't get to say goodbye and doesn't even know where they are buried.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Ebola epidemic that swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone during 2014 and the first half of 2015 was by far the worst outbreak of the disease ever, killing thousands of people. Countries with already poor health care systems struggled to contain the early stages of the outbreak, and one of the worst problems they faced was the lack of any quick, reliable way to identify patients infected with the virus.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND— The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa says West Africa is better prepared to tackle future outbreaks of Ebola. In an exclusive interview with VOA, Matshidiso Moeti says Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are now able to respond more quickly to emergencies because of upgrades to their surveillance, laboratory and health care systems.
Nina de Vries
FREETOWN— In an attempt to deal with a rise in sexual violence and teenage pregnancies in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, the country’s government has moved to address the issue through an alternative education initiative.
Under a program started in October, many pregnant girls previously barred from attending school now have classes available to them. The classes are also available to lactating mothers.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE— As a child, Anne-Marie Caulkner was forced to undergo female genital mutilation, or FGM, which some people refer to as female circumcision.
The traditional practice removes some or all parts of the external female genitalia. It is seen by some as a rite of passage for girls and a way to make a girl more appealing to a husband.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE— Sierra Leone has been Ebola-free for two months. While the situation has improved in some ways, many Ebola survivors say they are not getting enough help to rebuild their lives.
Ebola survivors discussed their frustrations recently at a meeting of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors in Freetown, the country’s capital.
Each survivor was entitled to a discharge package after recovery. This was to include a bag of rice, a foam mattress and some cash, equal to about $70.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE—As 2016 begins, Daddy Hasan Kamara, one of more than 4,000 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone, is grateful to have his children with him. They mean the world to him.
Nine of his family members were not so lucky and died from the disease, including one son.
“I’m really suffering, I’m really seeing things very hard,” Kamara said.
Since his recovery, he has not been able to find work. He has eight children and two sisters to care for.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE— Sierra Leone may be declared Ebola-free in early November, but caring for the country's 4,051 Ebola survivors remains a big challenge. Many survivors report joint pain and vision problems, and experts also are worried about the risk of relapse.
October 20, 2015 10:08 AM
GENEVA— The World Health Organization chief said preparedness, awareness, and transparency are at the heart of the WHO reform process.
World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan said many lessons have been learned from the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and these will be incorporated in the reform process that is underway.
Nina de Vries
October 11, 2015 6:21 PM
FREETOWN— Sunday, October 11, is the International Day of the Girl Child, which recognizes girls' rights and the challenges they face such as child marriage. According to the organization Girls not Brides, the rates of child marriage have risen sharply. It also says child marriage can increase during natural and humanitarian disasters. Now, the organization is calling on governments worldwide to implement policies and plans to end child marriage. In Sierra Leone the issue is a growing concern.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY—Johnson & Johnson has begun clinical trials for an Ebola vaccine in Sierra Leone.
The vaccine regimen is part of a new study being conducted in that nation's Kambia district, where some of the country's most recent Ebola cases have been reported.
More than 11,000 people have died from the Ebola virus since the latest outbreak emerged in late 2013, nearly all of them in West Africa in and around Sierra Leone.
There is currently no licensed vaccine, treatment or cure for Ebola.
FREETOWN— As Sierra Leone starts the 42-day countdown to being declared Ebola-free, the national Red Cross is using mobile radios to remind people about Ebola prevention.
Isha Wilson-Clarke stands outside in the Mountain Cut community on the east of Freetown. She tells residents to avoid body contact of any kind. And remember to always call 117, the emergency hotline, if you’re experiencing vomiting, high fever or other possible Ebola symptoms, she says.
A Sierra Leone official said the government is cautiously optimistic the country will successfully complete a new 42-day countdown to be declared Ebola-free without any setback.
The country began the new countdown Saturday after discharging its last two known patients from the International Medical Corps Treatment Center in Kambia District.
Sierra Leone’s hopes of being declared Ebola-free were dashed last August when a 67-year-old woman died in Kambia days after it began the first 42-day countdown.
Nina de Vries
FREETOWN—Heavy flooding in Freetown, Sierra Leone has killed at least 12 people and displaced thousands more from homes that were damaged or destroyed. Emergency accommodations have been set up at the National Stadium to help deal with the disaster.
People are sitting in the bleachers, some are laying on mattresses provided, while others line up for food and water.
Naomi Koroma is one of the thousands of people displaced.
She sits in the packed stadium cradling her newborn, only two days old.
Nina de Vries
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE—The last known Ebola patient in Sierra Leone was released from a hospital Monday. If the country goes 42 days without a new case, it will be declared Ebola-free. But the virus’ effects continue to haunt many residents, including those who buried the bodies of Ebola victims.
When Ebola was at its peak a year ago, corpses sometimes would be left for days before being picked up by overwhelmed burial teams.
The images of decomposed bodies began to haunt burial worker Abu Bakar Kalokah after he joined the Red Cross.
A new report said critical decisions by African leaders helped turn the tide in West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, or AGI, said there is no substitute for political leadership.
Writing in the AGI report, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, “It’s critical for people of the Ebola-affected countries to have a stake in their own futures.” She added that governments should “steer the course,” but everyone must take a “turn to row.”
FREETOWN—As Ebola cases have decreased in Sierra Leone, there is concern about how the crisis has affected the justice system. Longer jail times and what some say are unfair arrests have occurred.
A state of emergency, which includes certain restrictions of movement, has been in place in Sierra Leone for almost a year. But because Ebola cases have decreased, some restrictions have recently been lifted.
The streets of Freetown look back to normal. Vendors can now stay open longer and more people are using public transit.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE— People on the teams that buried Ebola victims in Sierra Leone have been stigmatized and shunned at home because of their connection to the deadly virus. But abroad, they're being recognized and praised.
Eight hundred burial team members from across the country have been named recipients of the Bond International Humanitarian Award for their contributions to stopping the spread of Ebola. The award is given by Bond, a British-based development organization, in recognition of unsung heroes.
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE— Sierra Leone is working hard to get down to zero cases of Ebola. Survivors are playing a key role, helping raise awareness about the disease by going out into communities every day to educate people.
Moa Wharf, an impoverished area of Freetown, was recently a hot spot for the Ebola virus. That's why Ebola survivors like Sulaiman Watfa are key. He and other Ebola survivors are immune to the disease and have been educating Moa Wharf residents about the virus.
While the West Africa Ebola epidemic is believed to be winding-down, the search for new treatments and vaccines is not. One study is a U.S./Serbian effort to find an effective anti-Ebola drug.