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.
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 2020 in Sierra Leone
Data and information from the International Activity Report 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.