The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has cost more than 11.000 lives and the health systems in the most affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are still struggling. Researchers from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium and partners of the University of Conakry and the Centre National de Formation et Recherche de Maferinyah, in Guinea, as well as the University of California, San Francisco, USA, write in the Lancet Global Health that the use of maternal and child health services have not yet recovered to their pre-outbreak levels.
The researchers sought to quantify the consequences of the Ebola outbreak on maternal and child health services in the highly-affected region Forested Guinea. They did a retrospective study on women and children attending public health facilities for antenatal care, institutional delivery, and immunisation services in six of seven health districts in Forested Guinea (Beyla, Guéckédou, Kissidougou, Lola, Macenta, and N’Zérékoré).
Dr. Alexandre Delamou is completing a PhD at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp. Together with his colleagues he observed a strong negative trend in maternal and child care during the outbreak, with for example fewer deliveries and antenatal care visits in health structures during the outbreak in comparison to the period after the outbreak. The use of services was not completely re-established after the end of the outbreak in 2016. The same trend was observed for most vaccinations. The researchers say targeted interventions are needed to get maternal and child health services back on track.
Since 2017, Guinea-Conakry is a new partner country in the capacity building programme of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, funded by the Belgian Development Cooperation. Experts from Antwerp will work with the Centre National de Formation et Recherche de Maferinyah and its local partners in Guinea to build local research and institutional capacity as part of the strengthening of the national health system in the post-Ebola era. Activities include the training of health care professionals, who were particularly affected by Ebola.
- The paper in Lancet Global Health: Effect of Ebola virus disease on maternal and child health services in Guinea: a retrospective observational cohort study
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