The Welbodi Partnership works in some of the poorest urban neighborhoods of Freetown, many of them very hard hit by the Ebola outbreak. With this project, we will engage with community leaders and the staff of primary health clinics, who often know best what they need to stop the spread of Ebola and reduce its impact in their communities. We will provide funding for the most promising of these ideas, and will help community groups and front line health workers implement these initiatives.
Ebola has not only killed thousands of people infected by the virus in Sierra Leone, including at least 200 health workers, but has also closed schools, disrupted livelihoods, and devastated the healthcare system. Hospitals and clinics were shut to protect staff and patients from Ebola, and fear and mistrust led many families to avoid seeking care. As a result, many thousands of people have likely died unnecessarily from conditions like malaria, diarrhea, and pregnancy-related complications.
We will engage with community members and staff of primary health facilities to solicit their ideas for how to stop the spread of Ebola and reduce its impact. We will then support them to implement the most promising ideas. Though we do not know beforehand what these specific projects will be, they may include training in infection control; installing community taps to help prevent disease transmission; and efforts to rebuild trust in the health sector and safely provide non-Ebola care.
We have been working since 2008 to improve the quality of healthcare for women and children in the eastern part of Freetown, home to about one million mostly impoverished residents. This project responds to the Ebola outbreak while building upon these ongoing efforts. By empowering community members and health workers to be agents of change, we aim to save lives in the short term and also help strengthen the health system, prevent future outbreaks, and reduce needless deaths over the long term.