In 2014 Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were overwhelmed with the Ebola virus. Sierra Leone reported 14,124 cases (suspected, probable and confirmed) with 3,956 deaths. Overall, the three countries suffered over 11,000 deaths and 28,616 total cases.
Sierra Leone’s stability and economic recovery that had started to emerge post civil war, was shattered. The devastating duration of the Ebola virus heightened the world’s awareness of the already fragile health system, and the lack of resources available in order to respond.
As a medical institution, the Ebola epidemic directly affected the performance of Magbenteh Community Hospital (MCH) and its surrounding communities. As a strategic response to contain the spread of the disease, a decision was made to close and quarantine the hospital for six weeks. Meanwhile, fifteen MCH staffs were trained at Connaught Hospital’s Holding Centre in Freetown by King’s College medical staff.
SSLDF’s strategy for its health programme focused on three areas:
- Assure the ongoing medical services of Magbenteh Community Hospital
- Guarantee zero new EVD infections amongst SSLDF’s medical and administrative staffs
- Support the Government of Sierra Leone in the fight against EVD
Once the main health facility reopened, MCH and other medical institutions around the country struggled to continue services and operations for those suffering from non-Ebola conditions; costs for medical items i.e. IV Fluids and PPE’s were 500% higher during the epidemic.
MCH’s Children’s Ward was used as the first Ebola Treatment Centre in the Northern Region, with renovations and improvements requested by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure the hospital was functioning to the correct safety requirements. The centre had a 100 bed capacity and was officially inaugurated by His Excellency, President Ernest B Koroma in November 2014.
A total of 161 confirmed Ebola patients were admitted to the MCH Ebola Treatment Centre. Of these cases, 106 survived and 55 died from the Ebola virus. The high survival rate, of 66%, is attributed to both the swift response of MCH staff combined with the utilisation of proper control measures.
As the front line of response, MCH staff compromised their own personal safety to treat and contain the Ebola epidemic. With deep sadness 10 members of our hospital staff were infected by the Ebola virus, of which 9 died and 1 survived.