Sierra Leone researchers call for improved health surveillance and communication around Ebola crisis

Researchers working in Sierra Leone today [Saturday 5 July] suggest priority actions needed to tackle the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa. In a letter to The Lancet, the researchers call for improvements in access to diagnostic technologies and health-care resources, as well as improved disease surveillance and health communication.

At present, there is little incentive for patients to seek professional diagnosis of suspected Ebola, say the authors, with most people with febrile (fever-causing) illnesses in Sierra Leone treated at home, and the true extent of the outbreak therefore very difficult to determine. Moreover, systems in the region are inadequate, despite research (conducted by the authors and others) suggesting that mobile phones and smartphones can be effectively deployed in routine collection of .

The authors also highlight a shortage of medical personnel and access to healthcare facilities for most people in the region, writing that, "The relatively few physicians, nurses, and healthcare providers attending to these underserved populations often have poor access to basic , and might therefore be understandably unwilling to provide direct care for patients suspected to have Ebola. There is an urgent need to provide reliable and constant access to personal protective equipment in health-care centres across the region."

Finally, the authors suggest that early disease control policies to restrict border crossings and sales of bushmeat have been ineffective. They write that, "What is certain is that these policies (and the ways that they were communicated) raised anxiety and, in some places, fuelled rumours that led to counter-productive behaviours. Improved communication by health officials with the media, community leaders, health professionals, and the general public is necessary to reduce misinformation and improve compliance with prevention and control measures that have been proven effective."

More information: The Lancet, www.thelancet.com/journals/lan… (14)61119-3/abstract

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Nocturnal GERD tied to non-infectious rhinitis

date 3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) appears to be a risk factor for non-infectious rhinitis (NIR), according to a study published online March 24 in Allergy.

COPD takes big toll on employment, mobility in US

date 7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The respiratory illness known as COPD takes a toll on mobility and employment, with a new report finding that nearly one-quarter of Americans with the condition are unable to work.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.