To allow for more timely information, we’ve published the most reliable sources of news on the outbreak geographically and socially as well as the most up to date medical authorities on the evolution of scientific aspect of the virus and how those teams are working to treat and prevent those affected.

Tracking the Geographical and Social Impacts

The Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University - This Blog contains very accurate information on developments from the perspective “on the ground” in Sierra Leone, by Les Roberts.

Fambul Tok - (Krio for “Family Talk”) is a Sierra Leonean community-owned program.  The blog on this site has very local information written by Sierra Leoneans.

International SOS - This site contains district level counts on confirmed cases and summarizes the treatment availability.  It also maintains a history of that information and links to a wealth of other information.

Public Health Authorities

WHO (World Health Organization)

Ebola Landing Page

Sierra Leone Country Landing Page

Map of ETC Ebola Treatment Centers)

CDC

(Centers for Disease Control)

MSF

(Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders)

Ebola Updates

The purpose of this page is to give everyone in our community as much information as we can about the ongoing Ebola crisis.

We have included as much information as we could about our friends and our experiences, but please note that all of that information is only up to date as of the date of publication.  (See bottom of page.)


Sierra Leone and the Devastation of Ebola

The immediate impact of the Ebola virus on the people of Sierra Leone is not difficult to quantify. As of November 17th there has been a total of 6,073 reported cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone. Of that number 1,588 patients have died. When first discovered, infections were limited to the eastern tip of Sierra Leone. However today, after a few short months, every one of Sierra Leone's districts has reported cases of the Ebola virus. The impact of the deaths, the efforts to treat its victims, and the turmoil and genuine fear created in its wake have left major financial and social impacts on Sierra Leone that will continue to play out for years after the virus is contained and eradicated.

 

In an effort to come to terms with the effects of the virus, the Sierra Leone government and its international partners have compiled a report titled appropriately, The Economic and Social Impact of Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone. The report, and other related articles on Ebola’s effect on the lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans make for sober reading. On the economic side, the virus has led to rising inflation, slower economic growth, increased indebtedness, a loss of regional trade, and a spike in unemployment. Sierra Leone's two pronged Ebola effort, which is designed to treat the illness and limit travel within and outside the country, is part of the reason for its economic doldrums. Evidence of the impact can be seen on the macro and micro economic levels. London Mining, an iron ore mining company whose operation accounted for 10% of Sierra Leone's GDP, has stopped production with no plans to reopen any time soon. Artisanal Small Scale Miners (ASM) totaled 200,000 to 300,000 individuals and their families who mined diamonds, gold and other minerals that were sold to traders in India. The work provided much needed income for poor families, but it has ground to a halt as the virus has completely shutdown exports. Similarly, Sierra Leone's domestic and international agricultural production has slowed, forcing the country to rely on imports which it cannot afford.

 

The social impact of the virus is even more concerning for the country's short and long term prospects. The strains on Sierra Leone's healthcare sector have been overwhelming. Prior to the virus's arrival, the Ministry of Health had implemented the Free Health Care initiative and other measures to improve child and maternal care. Resources for these programs have been diverted to the battle against Ebola. Similarly. the Ebola fight has diverted resources that would normally have gone to fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, as well as sanitation and clean water efforts. These achingly difficult choices have meant the rationing of precious healthcare resources and dollars. Add to this the fact that a number of the virus's early victims have been Sierra Leonean healthcare workers, including Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, its top virologist. Sierra Leone's health infrastructure has been damaged in every way possible.


Additionally, roughly 51% of Ebola's victims are women. Like healthcare workers, women in Sierra Leonean society are the traditional caregivers. It is the role of women to care for the sick and the dying, and to prepare bodies for burial. Particularly in communities in which the virus first appears and has not been identified, it is women who are most at risk of infection and most likely to spread the disease. The loss of women in communities has meant not only the loss of a parent for their children, but the loss of income earners, since at the village level women are vital to local commerce. Currently, schools and colleges across the country are closed due to the virus. While this is a necessary measure to limit exposure to the illness, it means that the country will struggle even more to address its high rates of illiteracy. The government report lamented that the nation's focus on the Ebola fight has detracted from much needed programs to educate and empower women. There is a fear that the longer schools are closed, the more likely that students, both male and female, will drop out.


Already the Ebola virus's impact on Sierra Leone has been compared to the civil war that ravaged it in the 1990s. Like the civil war, the virus has led to numerous deaths, torn families apart, and brought the country to a standstill. Also like the civil war, the virus has exposed infrastructural weaknesses such as the healthcare system, which always wanted for more and better trained healthcare workers and facilities. Nonetheless, while it is important to note the challenges facing Sierra Leone, we cannot and must not lose sight of the ability and willingness of Sierra Leonean communities to come together and address them. If our work in Sierra Leone has taught us anything, it is the dynamic leaders and people from communities with whom SLVP partners who are committed to bettering the lives of their children by coming forward and tackling their problems. We continue to believe that by working with these communities, we can help them face the immediate Ebola threat, build local infrastructure, and address the challenges ahead.



SLVP Board Member First Hand Account of Ebola from Sierra Leone

With so much in the news on Ebola lately, it’s on our minds every day, especially in regard to all of the friends we’ve made over the years partnering with villages throughout Sierra Leone. We are grateful to have the unique opportunity to provide you with a first person account of a recent visit to Sierra Leone (and Guinea) by one of our Board Members and some of the updates we’ve received via text message from our contacts in various villages across the country. One of our Executive Board Members left for Conakry on September 17th to meet up with a friend and travel via land to Gbendembu. What follows is a brief recap of the state of things on the ground in Guinea and the journey to Gbendembu, as well as reports that have come in from eye witnesses.

Upon arriving at the border to Sierra Leone, our board member found it closed to travelers from Guinea. After learning that our board member was bringing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the clinics in Gbendembu/Ngowahun chiefdom and that the Paramount Chief had sent his car to meet her, the border guards arranged for immigration and public health clearance and allowed her entry into Sierra Leone. At the time, virtually all public transportation has been halted in large parts of the country (this is a remarkable inconvenience, albeit, a strong statement of the commitment to how seriously the government is taking things in a country where only the very wealthy have access to private vehicles). Nighttime curfews were also in effect (they started at 7pm). No Okadas (motorcycle taxis) were permitted after dark. There was also a prohibition on stopping a vehicle of any kind in Makeni, one of Sierra Leone’s largest cities that has been affected.

At the time of publication, there are currently no cases in the village in which we are actively working, Bandawoh. There is also little else for people to take their minds off the enormous worry of Ebola. School has been cancelled country-wide, as have large public gatherings and cinemas have been closed. No one can go anywhere. As an organization, SLVP would like to do what we can within our resources and expertise to meet this challenge. As we are able to raise money for the Bandawoh school, especially now, during the dry season, we are sending it over. This allows the community to focus on the future and what its people can do right now to make it better, and to think of a time when they can send their children back to school. Our continued support at this time also encourages the community by sending the message that we believe this crisis will soon be over and we remain committed to completing this project: a new school.

As of the date of this publication none of the communities with which we have worked has reported a case of Ebola. Freetown, the capital, and its heavily populated suburbs have not fared as well. While SLVP has not had any projects in these areas, many of the people who assist us with coordination, friends and loved ones live there. We are hoping and wishing the best for them

SLVP's Reaction to the Ongoing Ebola Crisis

Like all of you who care deeply about Sierra Leone, this has been a terrifying year for us at SLVP, to say nothing for how terrifying it must be for those living in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This summer, we watched as the Ebola epidemic seemed to explode and jump quickly from town to town in that region. As board members of SLVP, we wanted to do something person-al and immediate to help. We contacted the organization “Hope for Lives” in Sierra Leone, a 501(c) (3) charitable non-profit organization in Germantown, Maryland. Thomas “Bobby” Smith, who heads up the organization, expressed gratitude for the personal donations of SLVP board members.


The supplies procured with our donation were delivered to Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. We remain hopeful that Sierra Leone will come through this. After recovering from a brutal civil war, Sierra Leone has proven that its people have the resilience to recover from this terrible crisis.







Some of the protective suits on display before shipping.

Boxes of medical protective gloves ready to ship to Sierra Leone. 

               This page published on 12/15/2014.

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