In mid-2015, Malaria Consortium began to look into the potential of starting up projects in Sierra Leone following the Ebola crisis of 2014-2015.
Sierra Leone is a country of approximately six million people in West Africa and, as a result of a protracted civil war which ended in 2001, it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world. Before the Ebola crisis, it was listed 183 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index.
The disease burden is also heavy, with high levels of maternal and child mortality, and year-round malaria transmission. The Ebola crisis further weakened health systems and has resulted in a loss of over six percent of the qualified health workforce, less availability of government funds for health expenditure, lower access and uptake of routine health services, increased cases of ‘routine’ diseases such as malaria. It also resulted in a loss of trust and confidence in the health system.
Factors that led to the Ebola outbreak include poor or non-existent disease surveillance systems (including community surveillance), weak community health systems, poor availability and quality of health services in rural and remote areas, poor accountability in the health system, ineffective health system strengthening initiatives and preference for traditional healthcare over the formal health system.
These are areas in which Malaria Consortium has expertise and as a result, we carried out a scoping visit to explore the potential for establishing programming to complement and support Sierra Leone’s recovery phase, and to build relationships with key Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) stakeholders and in-country donors.