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Sierra Leone

ACF continues the fight against malnutrition during the Ebola outbreak


In 2013, according to UNICEF data, Sierra Leone was ranked first for under 5 child mortality (185/1000). This situation is expected to deteriorate as consequence of the Ebola Outbreak where basic health services are not provided to pregnant and lactating women and children under 5. Likewise, despite the national SMART survey conducted over the summer 2014 showed an improvement in the malnutrition rates compare to the data of the 2010 SMART survey (GAM 6.9% in 2010 and 4.7% in 2014), rates are expected to worsen as indirect consequence of the Ebola outbreak. Indeed, the fear of health staff to contract Ebola while providing routine health services due to the low preparedness and safety measures in place to handle potential Ebola patients; and the fear of the communities in getting infected by attending health facilities have resulted in a decrease in the attendance to health facilities by the communities as well as a decrease in the provision of basic health services by health staff.  Furthermore, recent assessments conducted by FAO, WFP, ACF and others partners are showing a deterioration of the food security situation with a decrease in agricultural production, slowdown of the trade that are impacting on the households livelihood.




In an effort aiming at inverting this trend ACF has strengthened the support to Mothers Support Groups (MSGs) in Freetown. These groups, considered by the Ministry of Health (MoHS) as fundamental in the prevention and fight against malnutrition at community level, have demonstrated to be instrumental to change women and mothers’ behavior at community level. Along with the MoHS, ACF has reinforced the supported given to these groups providing them with key information on Ebola and facilitating the discussion around the topic – what are the symptoms, how to prevent it and what to do in case somebody is a suspected case – as well as equipping the groups with hand washing kits to improve hand-washing and prevent the potential spread of the virus. Further, as key focal points in their communities, mothers members of the MSGs are instrumental to pass messages to other mothers and caregivers on the need to attend health facilities to check on the nutritional and health status of their children. The mother leader of the MSG ACF supports in Lumley, one of the hot-spot in Freetown, reports that they “continue to encourage mothers not to avoid Health centers because even though the risk exist this is far greater when avoiding the centres as this is where medical staff can be found and can take care of ourselves and our children’s health”.  Further, she adds “We will now use our meetings to help ourselves to provide good nutritional care to our children as well as to share advice on Ebola”.




With regards to the health staff, ACF is about to start training for the health staff in 100 Peripheral Health Units in Moyamba District on the “infection, prevention, control” measures in order to strengthen the capacities of the health workers to provide communities with basic health services by ensuring they have the capacities to protect themselves from potential infections, and identify and refer potential Ebola patients to the adequate facilities.   

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