Alarming Ebola spread: more than 5000 deaths and almost 9000 contaminated people since March 2014. WHO predicts between 5000 and 10 000 new Ebola cases per week by December 2014.
While the Ebola virus outbreak spreads in West Africa, where Solthis has operated for more than 10 years, we draw the attention of the international community to the catastrophic consequences of this crisis on health systems. Access to care and continuity of treatment for other pathologies are in serious threat. This crisis disrupts health services and severely impacts the conditions of access to care for all populations. Our field staff can attest to the reality of the impact in many hospitals: Patient's fears of visiting health centers to receive consultations or medications have resulted in the interruption of treatments, evidenced by increasing number of defaulters.
Dr. Vanessa Wolfman, Solthis Pediatric care Manager testifies: “health care staff is placed under significant risk. I have seen pregnant women giving birth without skilled personnel and health care workers who have no gloves to ensure safe care and delivery.” Since August 18th the only pediatric referral hospital in Sierra Leone has been closed after a young child admitted to the emergency department for 2 days tested positive for Ebola. Our pediatrician draws attention to the impact of this alarming event: “As long as the hospital remains closed, thousands of children with treatable diseases, such as malaria and pneumonia, will die at home, without receiving essential treatment they require. The implications will also be severe for services such as outpatient pediatric HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis treatment, as lack of continuous care sacrifices the long-term health of these children.” UNAIDS is also calling for action to enhance securing continuity of access to anti-retroviral drugs and essential HIV prevention interventions by advocating for “a minimum HIV service package as part of efforts to restore public health services during this EDV outbreak.”
As a reminder, more than 120 000 people live with HIV in Guinea and 58 000 in Sierra Leone (UNAIDS, 2013)
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