Support services for survivors of ebola virus disease - Sierra Leone, 2014

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Dec 19;63(50):1205-6.


As of December 6, 2014, Sierra Leone reported 6,317 laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (Ebola), the highest number of reported cases in the current West Africa epidemic. The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation reported that as of December 6, 2014, there were 1,181 persons who had survived and were discharged. Survivors from previous Ebola outbreaks have reported major barriers to resuming normal lives after release from treatment, such as emotional distress, health issues, loss of possessions, and difficulty regaining their livelihoods. In August 2014, a knowledge, attitude, and practice survey regarding the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, administered by a consortium of partners that included the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, UNICEF, CDC, and a local nongovernmental organization, Focus 1000, found that 96% of the general population respondents reported some discriminatory attitude towards persons with suspected or known Ebola. Access to increased psychosocial support, provision of goods, and family and community reunification programs might reduce these barriers. Survivors also have unique potential to contribute to the Ebola response, particularly because survivors might have some immunity to the same virus strain. In previous outbreaks, survivors served as burial team members, contact tracers, and community educators promoting messages that seeking treatment improves the chances for survival and that persons who survived Ebola can help their communities. As caregivers in Ebola treatment units, survivors have encouraged patients to stay hydrated and eat and inspired them to believe that they, too, can survive. Survivors regaining livelihood through participation in the response might offset the stigma associated with Ebola.

MeSH terms

  • Epidemics / prevention & control*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Sierra Leone / epidemiology
  • Social Support*
  • Survivors / psychology*