Sierra Leone had made hard-fought gains in public health, including improving maternal care and reducing child mortality caused by malaria, when the Ebola virus outbreak erupted in 2014. The disease killed nearly 4,000 people, shattered the country’s already weak health systems, interrupted prevention and treatment for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and increased the number of deaths from these diseases.
The epidemic highlighted the importance of strong health systems to tackle emergencies and address new threats to global health security. Global Fund investments are supporting the country’s Health System Recovery Plan to rebuild resilient and sustainable systems for health, with a focus on training and deploying 15,000 health workers, improving laboratory capacity and data, building stronger procurement and supply chains and implementing a more effective community approach to fight the three diseases.
Sierra Leone faces enormous challenges and will need sustained support from global health partners. Malaria remains the most common cause of illness and death, accounting for almost 40 percent of deaths among children under 5. Key and vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by HIV, with men who have sex with men and the transgender population registering prevalence rates of 14 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Multidrug-resistant TB is a growing public health concern.
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