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MSF in Sierra Leone, 2007
Field Staff: 492
Reason for Intervention:
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Malaria is the main killer of children under the age of five in Sierra Leone. in Bo and Pujehun districts in southern Sierra Leone, where MSF is working, malaria is the most common disease. During 2007, staff in the MSF-supported health centers treated more than 100,000 cases of malaria.
MSF is fighting malaria through diagnosis and treatment using effective tools and drugs. Pinprick blood tests, so-called rapid diagnostic tests, are easy to interpret and suitable to use in areas where microscopy is not available. As in all MSF projects, malaria patients are treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), drugs that are more effective than earlier medicines, to which the malaria parasite has developed a high resistance.
MSF-supported health centers treated more than 100,000 cases of malaria.
MSF’s experience has also shown that to improve access to effective treatment of malaria, both healthcare and medicines have to be free. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and even low patient fees deter people from seeking treatment.
To make malaria treatment more accessible to people in remote areas far from the nearest clinic, MSF began to support 30 smaller health posts in rural areas. In November, a pilot program started to train community malaria workers to test for malaria using rapid diagnostic testing and to offer free treatment for uncomplicated malaria with ACT in their villages. Information and education on how to prevent and recognize malaria and to encourage people to seek care quickly are also important components in combating malaria. To prevent people from contracting the disease, more than 64,000 bed nets were distributed in 2006 and 2007.
Gondama referral center
MSF runs the Gondama referral center, a hospital outside Bo town that offers pediatric and maternity care and therapeutic feeding. Each month, the center admits around 500 pediatric patients, 100 malnourished children and 50 pregnant women. In 2007, a new operating theater opened where cesareans and other obstetric-related surgery are performed.
In March, an ambulatory therapeutic feeding program started making it possible to treat a greater number of children. The children come to the health center once a week for a medical check up and to receive their weekly supply of therapeutic food, an enriched peanut paste.
The risks of pregnancy
Women in Sierra Leone face one of the highest risks of dying from pregnancy and childbirth in the world. The five MSF-supported clinics include a special consultation area for women, where all medical staff are female. These provide ante- and post-natal care, family planning, treatment of sexually transmitted disease and medical and psychological care for victims of sexual violence. Normal deliveries also take place in the clinics while complicated cases are sent to the referral center.
MSF has worked in Sierra Leone since 1986.