Concept: Temne people
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.
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.
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.
During the 2014-16 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, the Magburaka Ebola Management Centre (EMC) operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Tonkolili District, Sierra Leone, identified that available district maps lacked up-to-date village information to facilitate timely implementation of EVD control strategies. In January 2015, we undertook a survey in chiefdoms within the MSF EMC catchment area to collect mapping and village data. We explore the feasibility and cost to mobilise a local community for this survey, describe validation against existing mapping sources and use of the data to prioritise areas for interventions, and lessons learned.
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic that hit West Africa in 2013 was the worst outbreak of EVD in recorded history. While much has been published regarding the international and national-level EVD responses, there is a dearth of literature on district-level coordination and operational structures, successes, and failures. This article seeks to understand how the EVD response unfolded at the district level, namely the challenges to operationalizing EVD surveillance over the course of the outbreak in Port Loko and Kambia districts of Sierra Leone. We present here GOAL Global’s understanding of the fundamental challenges to case investigation operations during the EVD response, including environmental and infrastructural, sociocultural, and political and organizational challenges, with insight complemented by a survey of 42 case investigators. Major challenges included deficiencies in transportation and communication resources, low morale and fatigue among case investigators, mismanagement of data, mistrust among communities, and leadership challenges. Without addressing these operational challenges, technical surveillance solutions are difficult to implement and hold limited relevance, due to the poor quality and quantity of data being collected. The low prioritization of operational needs came at a high cost. To mediate this, GOAL addressed these operational challenges by acquiring critical transportation and communication resources to facilitate case investigation, including vehicles, boats, fuel, drivers, phones, and closed user groups; addressing fatigue and low morale by hiring more case investigators, making timely payments, arranging for time off, and providing meals and personal protective equipment; improving data tracking efforts through standard operating procedures, training, and mentorship to build higher-quality case histories and make it easier to access information; strengthening trust in communities by ensuring familiarity and consistency of case investigators; and improving operational leadership challenges through meetings and regular coordination, establishing an active surveillance strategy in Port Loko, and conducting an after-action review. Resolving or addressing these challenges was of primary importance, and requisite for the implementation of technical epidemiological complements to EVD case investigation.
Case-fatality rates in Ebola treatment centers (ETCs) varied widely during the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa. We assessed the influence of referral pathway on ETC case-fatality rates with a retrospective cohort of 126 patients treated at the Mathaska ETC in Port Loko, Sierra Leone. The patients consisted of persons who had confirmed EVD when transferred to the ETC or who had been diagnosed onsite. The case-fatality rate for transferred patients was 46% versus 67% for patients diagnosed onsite (p = 0.02). The difference was mediated by Ebola viral load at diagnosis, suggesting a survival selection bias. Comparisons of case-fatality rates across ETCs and clinical management strategies should account for potential survival selection bias.
- Journal of the Royal Society, Interface / the Royal Society
- Published over 5 years ago
Understanding the growth and spatial expansion of (re)emerging infectious disease outbreaks, such as Ebola and avian influenza, is critical for the effective planning of control measures; however, such efforts are often compromised by data insufficiencies and observational errors. Here, we develop a spatial-temporal inference methodology using a modified network model in conjunction with the ensemble adjustment Kalman filter, a Bayesian inference method equipped to handle observational errors. The combined method is capable of revealing the spatial-temporal progression of infectious disease, while requiring only limited, readily compiled data. We use this method to reconstruct the transmission network of the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and identify source and sink regions. Our inference suggests that, in Sierra Leone, transmission within the network introduced Ebola to neighbouring districts and initiated self-sustaining local epidemics; two of the more populous and connected districts, Kenema and Port Loko, facilitated two independent transmission pathways. Epidemic intensity differed by district, was highly correlated with population size (r = 0.76, p = 0.0015) and a critical window of opportunity for containing local Ebola epidemics at the source (ca one month) existed. This novel methodology can be used to help identify and contain the spatial expansion of future (re)emerging infectious disease outbreaks.
The demand for high quality hospital care for children in low resource countries is not being met. This paper describes a number of strategies to improve emergency care at a children’s hospital and evaluates the impact of these on inpatient mortality. In addition, the cost-effectiveness of improving emergency care is estimated.
Knowing risk factors for household transmission of Ebola virus is important to guide preventive measures during Ebola outbreaks.
To describe a site assessment of the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH; Freetown, Sierra Leone), the national referral center for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) services and logical site for focused efforts to train and expand the RMNCAH workforce in Sierra Leone.