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?
Across all age groups, malaria is the country’s single biggest killer, accounting for 38 per cent of hospital admissions. Children are particularly vulnerable to malaria. In Sierra Leone, MSF treats malaria at Hangha hospital in Kenema district, and through mobile clinics that reach 25 villages in Kenema.
Outbreaks and civil war have severely weakened Sierra Leone’s health system. Children are affected by malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea and skin diseases. To help address the burden of preventable disease and monitor disease outbreaks, MSF is part of the case management and surveillance group at the Sierra Leone Emergency Operations Centre.
Our activities focus on providing healthcare for children under the age of five in Hangha hospital, including therapeutic feeding for malnourished children, and general paediatric care. Our teams also provide care for pregnant and lactating women, including the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. A new maternity ward in Hangha hospital includes two operating theatres for complicated deliveries and a neonatal unit.
MSF outreach teams are delivering community-based medical care directly to people in 25 remote and hard to reach villages to address medical issues such as malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia in Kenema district, through 10 local health units set up in these areas. Our activities also include ensuring consistent supplies of essential drugs, medical consultations, child vaccinations and health facility rehabilitations.
Our activities in 2021 in Sierra Leone
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2021.
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.