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Version 2. F1000Res. 2019 Jun 6 [revised 2020 Jan 9];8:793. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.18566.2. eCollection 2019.

Staffing in public health facilities after the Ebola outbreak in rural Sierra Leone: How much has changed?

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Directorate of Health Security and Emergencies, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Sustainable Health Systems, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Alliance for Public Health, Kiev, Ukraine.
TDR, The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO/TDR), Geneva, Switzerland.


Background: The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone led the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to set minimum standards of staffing (medical/non-medical) at the district level for the provision of basic essential health services (BPEHS). In one of the worst Ebola affected districts in Sierra Leone, we assessed staffing levels measured against these stipulated standards before, during, and 16 months after the Ebola outbreak. Methods: The study population included all health workers in 83 health facilities. We assessed staffing levels at three points in time: pre-Ebola (April 2014); the end of the outbreak (November 2015); and 16 months post-Ebola (March 2017). April 2014 was immediately prior to the Ebola outbreak and thus representative of the human resource situation before the outbreak. November 2015 was the month when Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free, and thus reflects the end-situation after Ebola. March 2017 was two years since the launch of the BPEHS, and some progress should be expected. Results: Against recommended medical staff numbers during pre-, intra- and post-Ebola periods, deficits were 67%, 65% and 60% respectively. Similarly, against recommended non-medical staff numbers during pre-, intra- and post-Ebola periods, the deficit remained at 92% throughout. In the post-Ebola period, there was a deficit of 73% against 1,389 recommended health worker positions. Conclusions: Nothing has really changed in the state of human resources for health, and urgent measures are needed to rectify the situation and prevent a déjà vu in the advent of a new Ebola outbreak.


Basic Package of Essential Health Services; Outbreak response; SORT IT; Sustainable Development Goals; Universal Health Coverage

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