Sierra Leone, November, 2014

The widespread reach of the epidemic in Sierra Leone has cast a shadow over every district, presenting a formidable challenge to the government's response efforts. Hindered by a scarcity of resources and a lack of coordination both nationally and at the district level, authorities struggle to mount an effective defense. Compounding the issue is the absence of a robust surveillance system, leaving the nation vulnerable to the unchecked spread of the virus. Shockingly, reports indicate that as many as 85 percent of calls to the national telephone helpline go unanswered, further exacerbating the crisis. Transit centers, meant to provide temporary respite for those affected, find themselves overwhelmed and poorly managed, heightening the risk of cross-contamination. Overcrowding, coupled with delays in laboratory testing and an inadequate number of ambulances, forces staff at these centers to make difficult decisions. In some cases, individuals are sent to treatment facilities without undergoing testing, raising the specter of positive cases infecting those who test negative. Tragically, the scarcity of treatment centers, often located at great distances, means that many individuals succumb to the virus during the lengthy ambulance journeys. Complicating matters further, the high viral load present in deceased bodies poses a significant risk to other passengers.

In response to this dire situation, several non-governmental organizations have mobilized teams to construct new treatment centers across various locations throughout the country. Their efforts represent a glimmer of hope in the face of an escalating crisis.