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 2020 in Sierra Leone

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.

MSF in Sierra Leone in 2020 In Sierra Leone, MSF focuses on maternal and paediatric care, with the aim of reducing the high rates of sickness and death among mothers and children under five.
Sierra Leone Activities 2020

There is a critical shortage of medical staff, resulting in a lack of services for the most vulnerable groups. Our teams work to fill some of these gaps, providing healthcare for children under the age of five, pregnant women and lactating mothers. We have staff in 13 peripheral health units in three chiefdoms (Gorama Mende, Wandor and Nongowa), and a hospital in Hangha, Kenema district, supporting intensive therapeutic feeding centres, general paediatric care and malaria treatment.

In Tonkolili district, we support Magburaka district hospital and nine peripheral health units, with improvements to infection prevention and control measures and water and sanitation systems. We also support the supply of essential drugs, and staff training. Our services include family planning, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, psychosocial support, and medical treatment for victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

In Makeni town, Bombali district, we are working with the national TB programme to implement an ambulatory model of care in the community for drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis and treatment. We also continue to support the country’s main TB facility in Lakka hospital, in the capital, Freetown.
MSF assisted the national response to COVID-19 by transforming a government facility in Freetown into a 120-bed treatment centre, and trained staff. The Lassa fever isolation unit in Kenema public hospital was renovated and used as a COVID-19 treatment centre with an initial capacity of 25 beds.

A group of nurses and midwives, who went to study in Ghana for two years under an MSF Academy for Healthcare sponsorship, returned to work in Sierra Leone. MSF’s investment in human resources for healthcare is a commitment to improving the quality of care for patients.


in 2020
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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