Ebola in Rural Sierra Leone: Its Effect on the Childhood Malnutrition Programme in Tonkolili District
The 2013–2015 West African Ebola virus disease epidemic may have had an impact on the malnutrition program in Sierra Leone, as has been reported for other services in EVD-affected countries. We examined the effect of the epidemic on the malnutrition program in a rural district in Sierra Leone using a retrospective cross sectional study design. Programme data on the prevalence of moderate (MAM) and severe (SAM) acute malnutrition among children in Tonkolkili District were collected, analyzed, and sent to the District Health Information Management System (DHIS) between the period of study—June 2013 to April 2016. The study period was separated into pre-Ebola outbreak, outbreak, and post-outbreak periods for comparison. We identified a notable decrease in health facility malnutrition screening during the Ebola outbreak compared to before the outbreak, but which returned to pre-outbreak levels following the cessation of the epidemic. Community malnutrition screening remained stable during the outbreak, but subsequently increased during the post-outbreak period. Fewer cases of childhood malnutrition were diagnosed during the outbreak, while the numbers diagnosed during the post-outbreak period increased. In order for such shortfall to be prevented in future health disasters, malnutrition programs need to be strengthened.
KeywordsChild Therapeutic feeding Health systems strengthening Operational research Ebola virus disease Malnutrition Sierra Leone Pediatrics Child morbidity Child mortality Childhood malnutrition Nutrition programs Tonkolili District
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