Research for stronger health systems during and after crisis

Sierra Leone

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ReBUILD's work in Sierra Leone is being led by the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences in Freetown.

The research has followed ReBUILD’s core themes of health financing and the effect on poor households’ access to health services, and of policies on human resources for health and the incentive environment for health workers.

However the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in 2014-15 has also shaped ReBUILD’s activities in Sierra Leone. An additional research project is being conducted on the effects of the Ebola outbreak on health workers and the health system, to identify lessons for future health system reconstruction. And the ReBUILD partners have been actively working with policy and implementing organisations both within Sierra Leone and internationally to ensure that relevant research findings have been accessible to those involved in maintaining health services during the outbreak and in the rebuilding of the health system during recovery from the outbreak.

ReBUILD's work in Sierra Leone also includes a further line of research being conducted by ReBUILD's Affiliate partners at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, into health workers' incentives, remuneration and accountability.

Health financing and the effects on poor households

Sierra Leone has a particularly high share of out-of-pocket expenditure in relation to total health spending at around 70%. The NHSSP notes that approximately 50% of the population is excluded from health services by even modest fees. A package of free services for pregnant and lactating women and children under 5 was introduced by April 2010. This package is a Government initiative to address the financial burden placed on households because of payments for healthcare and commodities. Salary increases for health workers were also introduced and these have been supported with financing from donors. ReBUILD’s work aligns with this drive to improve access to healthcare, and the aim of this work is to encourage the use of research evidence to reduce mortality and morbidity amongst the population, particularly in women and children.

Our research focuses on understanding the impact of the free healthcare package, particularly in relation to the poorest households and gendered expenditure. Official and unofficial fees are a recognised problem in Sierra Leone and it is not clear how they will be affected by the free package policy. We have been exploring how poor households negotiate the plural health system in which private providers, non-governmental organisations and herbalists are frequently accessed.

The incentive environment and experiences of health workers, post-conflict and during the Ebola outbreak.

We have been studying the effects of policies on health worker incentives to better understand how we can create incentive environments that support access to rational and equitable health services. This was particularly important in the light of proposed results and performance-based incentives which were to be introduced. Our wide-ranging research on health worker experiences and motivation conducted prior to the Ebola outbreak is now being complemented by additional research on the effects of the Ebola outbreak on health workers and the health system. Findings from this work are being used to inform current strategies and implementation of policies on human resources for health in the long-term rebuilding of the health system during recovery from the Ebola outbreak.


 

   

Read an update on our work in Sierra Leone from August 2013