Research for stronger health systems during and after crisis

Ebola in Sierra Leone: effects on health workers and the health system and lessons for future health system reconstruction

The Ebola Virus Disease outbreak evolved in alarming ways in Sierra Leone, and the country struggled to control the escalating outbreak against a backdrop of a weak health system. There was a delayed response to the outbreak due to a number of factors ranging from governance and leadership, lack of readiness in the health facilities and challenges pertaining to the human resources for health (HRH). There is a need to understand how the health system responded to the current Ebola crisis, from the health workers' perspective, to unpick the factors that supported or hindered health workers’ ability to cope with the crisis and generate findings that can be fed into the ongoing crisis as an immediate response, and can be utilised in rebuilding the crumbling health sector in the post-Ebola phase, and for any further outbreaks of epidemic disease, as a longer term response.

 To address this need, a new study has been conducted in four districts in Sierra Leone, using the following methods:

  1. A documentary review: reports on health service coverage and staffing levels pre and during Ebola, as well as online publications on the Ebola crisis and its effects on health workers and the health system.
  2. Key informant interviews: with members of the District Health Management Teams and local councils, health facility managers and international partners working in the study districts.
  3. In depth interviews with health workers: working in public health facilities and international health workers involved with the treatment of Ebola patients.

 This study commenced in early 2015. Analysis of the data is underway, and published outputs will be published here as they emerge.

 See ReBUILD's Haja Wurie sharing her insights on Ebola, health systems research and health system reconstruction in Sierra Leone, in this video.