The link between the West African Ebola outbreak and health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

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An adequate and efficient health workforce is of the utmost importance to a strong health care system and ensures a quick response to outbreaks.

The Ebola outbreak of Guinea 2013 had spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2014. Observations of the pre-existing health systems of these three countries reveal correspondence in underdeveloped infrastructure and response preparations to the subsequent outbreaks. Therefore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern on August 8, 2014.

The ‘WHO health system building blocks’ were used to evaluate the performance of health systems in tackling the Ebola outbreak amongst the three countries. According to the WHO, adequate service delivery results from a collective success of the building blocks- health workforce, health financing, information and research, medical products and technologies, leadership and governance, service delivery.

Lack of healthcare professionals was a common theme found in all three Ebola outbreaks and was associated with the lack of resources/funding from the government or from recent civil wars. Not only were the skilled workforce deprived, but with the existing medical products and technologies the outbreaks were uncontrollable. The undesirable outcomes of high mortality rates and incidents have led the governments to realize the deficiency in current practice and the importance of surveillance and research for effectual healthcare managements.

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