Sierra Leone is emerging from one of the most challenging public health epidemics in its history with the outbreak of Ebola. The epidemic resulted in more than 4,000 deaths, and severely strained Sierra Leone’s already weak health system. Several health workers and carers died as a result of Ebola. Laboratories played a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of Ebola in Sierra Leone, and contributed to the eventual control of the epidemic.
Recognising the essential role of laboratories in Sierra Leone’s health system, the country‘s Ministry of Health and Sanitation identified the need for a reliable evidence base to inform decisions on how laboratories should be strengthened. As part of this important initiative, we supported the implementation of a National Rapid Assessment of Laboratory Capacity and Systems, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
On Friday 8 April, the Minister of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofonah launched the National Rapid Laboratory Capacity Assessment report. The report provides comprehensive insight into the current capacity and limitations at all laboratories in the country, including an assessment of the available infrastructure, equipment, human resources, supplies and systems that are necessary for a well-functioning laboratory system. The findings in the report will provide policy makers and planners with the evidence needed to build the laboratory capacity to strengthen health service delivery in the country. This is essential in enabling Sierra Leone to combat future outbreaks and for the long term improvement of the laboratory system.
“The story of labs in Sierra Leone has always demonstrated selfless individuals with unflinching commitments working under very resource limited conditions to bring care to our people.” Dr Yilla, Country representative
Dr Victor Matt Lebby, Director of Hospitals and Laboratory Services, provided key leadership in the assessment. In presenting the report findings, he further underscored the high quality of the data and the importance of the findings in informing future strengthening of the laboratory system.
We are confident that this document will prove to be an essential resource in making decisions on how to strengthen the laboratory services in a way that will benefit the health and well-being of people in Sierra Leone. Laboratory services are critical for the delivery of the basic package of essential health services, and key to the delivery of the President’s resilient zero strategy.
We will continue to work alongside Ministry of Health and Sanitation to improve laboratory services through better coordination, data for decision making and flexible technical support drawing directly from our expertise in health systems strengthening.