Via MSF: The Race To Control Ebola in Sierra Leone. Excerpt:
The Ebola outbreak currently sweeping through West Africa is reaching an unprecedented scale in terms of its geographical spread, the number of cases, and the number of victims. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 848 cases of Ebola and 518 deaths in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia since the beginning of the outbreak.
In addition to its work in Guinea, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has treated more than 70 patients with symptoms resembling those of Ebola in the Kailahun treatment center in eastern Sierra Leone over the past two weeks. Concerned about a possible spike in patients in the coming weeks, MSF teams are augmenting the center’s capabilities as well.
“To accommodate growing patient numbers, MSF has expanded the capacity of the treatment center from 32 to 65 beds,” says Anja Wolz, MSF emergency coordinator.
More than 150 national and international staff are now working on the outbreak in Sierra Leone. Because of limited human resources, however, MSF is concentrating its efforts on treating patients and educating communities about the disease.
Beyond medical treatment, controlling the outbreak will require the deployment of large numbers of people to train health care personnel in infection control measures, to follow up with and trace cases and their contacts, to set up an epidemiological surveillance network, and to promote public health messages.
Concerned about “hidden cases”
Staff are also doing what they can to find people sick with the virus and those with whom they came into contact. It’s a race against time to stop the spread of the disease.
“We’re under massive time pressure," says Wolz. "The longer it takes to find and follow up with people who have come in contact with sick people, the more difficult it will be to control the outbreak."
At the moment, Sierra Leone's Ministry of Health is working with the WHO to reinforce teams for contact tracing. Patients still need to be identified; nearly 40 were reported in just one village in Ngolahun, in the country’s Eastern Province.