252 people have died from the outbreak of Ebola Virus in Sierra Leone
Up to 90% of those infected with Ebola Virus die of the disease if they cannot access medical help.
A national State of Emergency has been declared by the Sierra Leone government, closing schools and markets and placing affected communities in quarantine.
An unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has had the greatest impact on Sierra Leone with a third of all deaths across the region occurring here.
Communities in eastern Sierra Leone are particularly vulnerable to the disease because of the lack of information or education on Ebola. Once infected, people are not seeking medical help, which in turn places more people at risk from the highly contagious disease. Rumours that health workers are actually causing the outbreak have made it difficult for humanitarian groups to access the most vulnerable people and prevent the spread of the disease.
International Medical Corps is providing house-to-house Ebola education to help spread the word about the virus. This includes information on how to prevent the spread of Ebola, how to identify the symptoms of the disease and where to get help if people think they may have contracted it. Trainings for medical professionals within the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health are also helping to protect doctors and nurses working with Ebola patients from contracting the disease.
An International Medical Corps emergency response team has been despatched to Sierra Leone supporting government and international efforts to halt the spread of the Ebola virus. The team will boost awareness campaigns on preventing Ebola virus transmission, strengthen efforts to trace Ebola cases and carry out assessments on health facilities that require additional support. Amongst the first sites to be assessed will be Kenema Hospital in Bo District which was abandoned by the staff who feared infection and is now functioning with just four medical professionals.
In 2010 International Medical Corps launched an ambitious five year food security programme in Sierra Leone to prevent malnutrition in children under two years of age.
The effects of malnutrition on young children are felt for life, including stunted growth, a weakened immune system and hindered brain development. In Sierra Leone, International Medical Corps uses a unique approach that focuses on forming mother support groups to stimulate strong mother-child interaction and teach good nutrition habits. The Mother Care Group model, developed by our nutrition and behavioural change experts, draws on successful programmes in Burundi, Uganda and Ethiopia.