The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the most significant medical challenge that Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) faced between 2014 and 2015. Indeed, there was no established cure for Ebola, there were a series of medical and logistical challenges to prevent infections and manage Ebola patients, and there was very little scientific knowledge to back decisions up.
Two years after the Ebola outbreak was declared in Guinea, MSF publishes a review of its Ebola-related research carried out in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, including clinical, epidemiological and anthropological research. During the outbreak, MSF cared for more than 5,200 Ebola confirmed patients, of which 2,500 patients survived the disease. This unique position means MSF was able to use medical data to answer pressing questions on Ebola and the perception around it.
The report, “Two years of MSF supported research on Ebola” includes, among others, research results on clinical management, surveillance, clinical trials, community perception, effects on non-Ebola healthcare, triage and admission, and vulnerable patients groups.
From June 2014 onwards, field research was carried out in the three most affected countries in West Africa. MSF still continues to work on Ebola data analysis to publish its results in medical journals. All publications can be accessed online through the References chapter of the report.
Valuable lessons were learnt from this research and they must be retained. Today the international community and medical actors can ensure that these lessons are translated into health policies and guidelines to manage emergency Ebola outbreaks and prevent such a disastrous situation and loss of lives.
Finally, the body of research produced indicates that even in the challenging context of an Ebola emergency outbreak, it is feasible to conduct relevant field research corresponding to the operational questions of medical teams.
This report is dedicated to all the workers on the field who have worked on Ebola control programs and have tirelessly contributed to end this outbreak.