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.
Diagnostic tools available in low-income countries are often really basic even if patients can be as sick as those of the richer countries. Point-of-care ultrasound could be a solution for this problem. We studied the impact of ultrasound at the Holy Spirit Hospital, Makeni, Sierra Leone.
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.
We characterize health knowledge and practices in urban and rural Makeni, Sierra Leone, drawing comparisons between areas served by community health workers (CHWs), with those that are not. We also inquire about causes of infant and maternal mortality and how they are understood in the local context. Our objective was to provide a baseline understanding of health knowledge and practices in Makeni during the implementation of a CHW program.
In 2012, Sierra Leone suffered a nationwide cholera epidemic which affected the capital Freetown and also the provinces. This study aims to describe the characteristics and clinical management of patients admitted to cholera isolation wards of the main referral hospital in the Northern Province and compare management with standard guidelines.