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Concept: Bombali District

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Kambia District is located in northwestern Sierra Leone along the international border with Guinea. The district is dominated by forest and swamp habitat and has a population of approximately 270,000 persons (approximately 5% of the nation’s population) who live in rural villages and predominantly subsist on farming and trading. During 2014-2015, the remoteness of the area, a highly porous border with Guinea, and strong traditional beliefs about health care and sickness led to unique challenges in controlling the Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola) outbreak within the district.

Concepts: Sierra Leone, Temne people, Northern Province, Sierra Leone, Port Loko District, Districts of Sierra Leone, Bombali District, Kambia District, Susu people

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The West African Ebola epidemic of 2013-2016 was by far the largest outbreak of the disease on record. Sierra Leone suffered nearly half of the 28,646 reported cases. This paper presents a set of culturally contextualized Ebola messages that are based on the findings of qualitative interviews and focus group discussions conducted in ‘hotspot’ areas of rural Bombali District and urban Freetown in Sierra Leone, between January and March 2015. An iterative approach was taken in the message development process, whereby (i) data from formative research was subjected to thematic analysis to identify areas of community concern about Ebola and the national response; (ii) draft messages to address these concerns were produced; (iii) the messages were field tested; (iv) the messages were refined; and (v) a final set of messages on 14 topics was disseminated to relevant national and international stakeholders. Each message included details of its rationale, audience, dissemination channels, messengers, and associated operational issues that need to be taken into account. While developing the 14 messages, a set of recommendations emerged that could be adopted in future public health emergencies. These included the importance of embedding systematic, iterative qualitative research fully into the message development process; communication of the subsequent messages through a two-way dialogue with communities, using trusted messengers, and not only through a one-way, top-down communication process; provision of good, parallel operational services; and engagement with senior policy makers and managers as well as people in key operational positions to ensure national ownership of the messages, and to maximize the chance of their being utilised. The methodological approach that we used to develop our messages along with our suggested recommendations constitute a set of tools that could be incorporated into international and national public health emergency preparedness and response plans.

Concepts: Focus group, Communication, Sierra Leone, Freetown, Ernest Bai Koroma, Temne people, Bombali District, Makeni

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This paper discusses the establishment of a clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine candidate in Kambia District, Northern Sierra Leone during the epidemic, and analyses the role of social science research in ensuring that lessons from the socio-political context, the recent experience of the Ebola outbreak, and learning from previous clinical trials were incorporated in the development of community engagement strategies. The paper aims to provide a case study of an integrated social science and communications system in the start-up phase of the clinical trial.

Concepts: Sierra Leone, Temne people, Northern Province, Sierra Leone, Port Loko District, Districts of Sierra Leone, Bombali District, Kambia District, Susu people

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Mortality surveillance and vital registration are limited in Sierra Leone, a country with one of the highest mortality rates among children aged <5 years worldwide, approximately 120 deaths per 1,000 live births (1,2). To inform efforts to strengthen surveillance, stillbirths and deaths in children aged <5 years from multiple surveillance streams in Bombali Sebora chiefdom were retrospectively reviewed. In total, during January 2015-November 2016, 930 deaths in children aged <5 years were identified, representing 73.3% of the 1,269 deaths that were expected based on modeled estimates. The "117" telephone alert system established during the Ebola virus disease (Ebola) epidemic captured 683 (73.4%) of all reported deaths in children aged <5 years, and was the predominant reporting source for stillbirths (n = 172). In the absence of complete vital events registration, 117 call alerts markedly improved the completeness of reporting of stillbirths and deaths in children aged <5 years.

Concepts: Death, Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, Temne people, Northern Province, Sierra Leone, Bombali District, Makeni, Joseph Saidu Momoh

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to explore the factors influencing women’s use of birth waiting homes in the Northern Bombali district, Sierra Leone.

Concepts: Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, Bombali District, Joseph Saidu Momoh

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In the largest Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in history, nosocomial transmission of EVD increased spread of the disease. We report on 2 instances in Sierra Leone where patients unknowingly infected with EVD were admitted to a general hospital ward (1 pediatric ward and 1 maternity ward), exposing health care workers, caregivers, and other patients to EVD. Both patients died on the general wards, and were later confirmed as being infected with EVD. We initiated contact tracing and assessed risk factors for secondary infections to guide containment recommendations.

Concepts: Health care, Epidemiology, Infection, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise, Sierra Leone, Northern Province, Sierra Leone, Bombali District

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