Expanding in challenging times

Sierra Leone

Disease outbreaks – including of Ebola and, more recently, COVID-19 – and years of civil war have devastated the healthcare system in Sierra Leone, leaving it severely understaffed.

Since MSF first responded in Sierra Leone – during a cholera outbreak in 1986 – we have adapted and expanded our projects to meet the growing needs in the country. Today, our teams monitor the spread of different diseases, including COVID-19, and is helping to boost the pool of skilled and qualified medical staff.

In a country where child and maternal death rates are exceptionally high, our activities are focused on children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers, especially in Kenema, in the country’s east.

MSF currently runs medical projects in three districts, Kenema, Tonkolili and Bombali, helping the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to provide general and specialist healthcare, including for tuberculosis and HIV. Our teams also provide psychosocial support and treatment for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

To address the lack of skilled and qualified health workers, the MSF Academy has enrolled nurses and clinical heath officers in Kenema, to help improve the services and to deliver effective responses during emergencies.

What are we doing in Sierra Leone?

Our activities in 2021 in Sierra Leone

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021.

MSF in Sierra Leone in 2021 In Sierra Leone, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to fill gaps in health services, particularly for women and children, and support the response to infectious diseases.

In 2021, we provided general and specialist healthcare in three districts and ran training programmes to address the severe shortage of qualified medical staff, which has resulted in a lack of services for the most vulnerable groups.

In Hangha hospital in Kenema district, where our team provides urgent paediatric care to children under five, we started to build a new maternity department, with two operating theatres for complicated deliveries and a neonatal unit, which will increase the total hospital capacity to 164 beds. Our staff also work in peripheral health units and offer care in the community for diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

In Tonkolili district, we focus on reducing maternal and child deaths by supporting paediatric, maternity, neonatal and adolescent services at Magburaka hospital, the Magburaka mother and child health post, 12 health centres and 10 malaria points in Yoni chiefdom. In addition, we work with the district authorities to boost epidemic response capacity. 

In Makeni town in Bombali district, we are helping the national tuberculosis (TB) programme to improve care for drug-resistant TB and to make it available on an outpatient basis. In 2021, we expanded our activities to all the district’s TB facilities, including prisons. Our team also continues to support the country’s main TB facility in Lakka hospital, in Freetown.
After a new Ebola outbreak was declared in February in Guinea, an emergency team was sent to support the health system in Kailahun border district to prevent the spread of the virus into Sierra Leone. The team set up isolation wards in several health facilities, trained healthcare workers and reinforced health promotion. 

In Freetown, we assisted with the government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Thompson Bay slum and started to renovate parts of Connaught hospital to set up a 45-bed COVID-19 treatment centre. 


in 2021
Kenema Hospital first construction phase.
Sierra Leone

New hospital to counter high maternal and child mortality rates

Project Update 14 Jun 2019
Lassa fever project
Neglected diseases

Lassa fever: A challenging disease to diagnose and treat

Project Update 18 Jan 2019
MSF Hospital in Kabala, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone

Learning from the past, preparing for the future

Project Update 21 Aug 2018
Health promotion
Sierra Leone

Winning people’s trust in healthcare

Project Update 27 Jul 2018
Landslides in Freetown
Sierra Leone

MSF supports communities hit hard by mudslide and flooding

Project Update 24 Aug 2017
MSF HIV Clinics in Kinshasa, DRC

HIV response in West and Central Africa will not succeed if key barriers remain unaddressed

Press Release 3 Jul 2017

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