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MSF in Sierra Leone, 2011
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A decade after the end of the civil war, Sierra Leone is still recovering. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to improve maternal and child health.
At the Gondama referral center, a 200-bed hospital outside Bo, the second-largest city in the country, MSF offers specialist obstetric and pediatric care. Staff at the center tended to more than 8,700 children in 2011, and assisted over 1,300 births, 723 of which were by caesarean section.
MSF also treated more than 1,600 children with severe malnutrition at its nutrition program at Gondama. Severely malnourished children with medical complications were referred to Bo government hospital, where an MSF nurse supports the center's staff.
The network of community malaria volunteers, who diagnose and treat simple cases of malaria among their neighbors, was not as large as in previous years. The MSF team continues to support the network, while refocusing its malaria activities towards the provision of specialist treatment at Gondama.
Healthcare in local health centers
An outreach team supports five community health centers in Bo district. Staff offer basic healthcare, antenatal care and treatment for malnutrition and malaria, and carry out health promotion activities. A lack of qualified health staff and inadequate health facilities mean that people in need of specialist medical assistance often do not get hospital treatment until the very late stages of their illness or pregnancy.
MSF operates an ambulance service to help people reach the hospital more quickly. Three ambulances are on standby 24 hours a day at health centers around the district to transport people free of charge to Gondama. People with more complicated conditions are referred to the capital Freetown.
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that occurs in west Africa. It is an acute illness that affects several organs in the body, including the liver, spleen and kidneys. Sierra Leone has a specialist ward for Lassa patients at Kenema hospital, 300 kilometers (186 mi) east of Freetown. MSF operates an ambulance to transport people with Lassa fever to Kenema.
At the end of 2011, MSF had 484 staff in Sierra Leone. MSF first worked in the country in 1985.