Resurgence of Ebola Epidemic in West Africa

Sylvain Cherkaoui


Though the number of patients appeared to be declining, new cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The virus has already affected more than 300 people in West Africa. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to support health authorities in the two countries, treating patients and putting measures in place to contain the epidemic.

MSF Team Dispatched to Sierra Leone

According to information from the Ministry of Health, since the end of May there has been one confirmed case of Ebola and four deaths in Koindu, Sierra Leon’s Kailahun district near the Guinean border.  On May 29, authorities reported 18 suspected cases, six of whom died.

In the coming days MSF will set up a treatment center in Koindu, the epicenter of the epidemic in Sierra Leone, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.

A team of specialists will join the team already present on the ground. Additional medical and logistical supplies such as protective clothing kits and medicines to protect health staff and to set up facilities where patients can be treated will also be provided.

“Ebola is a disease that scares people and that is perceived as mysterious, but people can overcome it,” says MSF Emergency Coordinator Marie-Christine Ferir. “Earning people’s trust is essential in efforts to fight the epidemic.” Since the beginning of the epidemic, about 30 patients treated by MSF in Guinea have survived the disease.

New Cases Reported in Guinea

Despite efforts on the ground, the number of confirmed cases has increased in the last few weeks. As of May 30, the number stands at 178 confirmed cases, while a total of 113 people have died, according to the Guinean Ministry of Health.

The epidemic has spread to Boffa on Guinea’s coast, and to Telimele in the Kindia region. New patients have also been registered in Conakry, Gueckedou, and Macenta.

The rise in cases may be due to a reluctance on the part of patients to go to hospital. The movement of infected people and cadavers is also a major issue. Families frequently transport dead bodies themselves in order to organize funerals in other towns. The multiplication of affected areas makes it difficult to treat patients and control the epidemic. “The main challenges we face on the ground are resistance within communities and follow-up with of people who have crossed borders and may be infected,” says Ferir.

MSF employs around 300 international and national staff in the region.  More than 44 tons of equipment and supplies have been sent to fight the epidemic.

A nurse prepares water and meals for Ebola patients.
Sylvain Cherkaoui