Ebola experts at the ASTMH conference in New Orleans concerned about the effect of Ebola on the health systems in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone — as the Ebola response has drawn physicians and nurses away from the normal care system.
“A lot of the health infrastructure has collapsed in these countries. For instance, maternal health is a serious issue right now,” said Dr. Lina Moses of Tulane University.
“In Sierra Leone, which already has a very high maternal mortality rate, there were currently no physicians alive and willing to do cesarean sections on non-Ebola cases. Clinicians not dealing with Ebola patients normally are afraid to deal with any patients particularly when there is quite a lot of exposure to blood. Right now, as far as I understand it, getting a C-section in Sierra Leone is not possible,” she said. “And when there is no one in the country to do a C-section, we’re expecting maternal mortality to skyrocket.”
“What’s going on outside of the outbreak, the normal care system – I think when I was in Monrovia at the end of August, pretty much all of the secondary care — all of the hospitals had stopped admitting patients. So there was no inpatient care being delivered to a city of over one million people,” said Dr. Armand Sprecher of Médecins Sans Frontières. “Primary care has been significantly reduced through the official outlets. The number of people dying of non-Ebola causes at the time is unknown, we’re trying to measure it but the suspicion is that it probably is much larger than the people that are actually dying of Ebola right now.”
Dr. Sprecher added that investigations are now ongoing to see just how great the impact has been, and said that this was part of the reason MSF has been distributing anti-malarials in some of the settings.
Global Health Strategies generously supported Theo Smart’s attendance at the 63rd Annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Conference in New Orleans.