Learning, to Prevent the Next Outbreak

Guinea was ground zero for the 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus, and health experts were concerned that other critical health issues such as routine care for maternal and child health, might suffer because of clinic closures or fears of contracting the virus. MEASURE Evaluation conducted a rapid assessment to understand better the effects of Ebola and published a journal article on the results.

Ebola ScreenshotGuinea has maintained its Ebola-free status for about one month. Although that bodes well for the country’s people, their protection from another outbreak rests in part on the availability of data for making informed decisions on health priorities.

One researcher who traveled to the country to assess the effects of the Ebola outbreak on the use of routine health services, especially for mothers and children, is Alimou Barry of the USAID-funded MEASURE Evaluation project. The report findings were mixed, revealing that data were collected even during the height of the epidemic, but were never analyzed or used to recognize the beginnings of the outbreak. The research also found a decline in use of health services during the outbreak, especially for children. Read a journal article on the assessment here, authored by Janine Barden O’Fallon, Alimou Barry, Paul Brodish, and Jack Hazerjian. 

In the video telling of his experience, Barry adds that he found that people who sought treatment for their symptoms early were more likely to survive than those who waited. Travel with us to Guinea to hear him describe his country’s experience and what he suggests for the future. (See the English version at https://vimeo.com/152664842 or French version at https://vimeo.com/153122906.)

And, for a picture of what it is like to work in Guinea near the end of the outbreak, “Ebola Diaries” offers just that: a picture in ten installments of life and work embedded in the Ministry of Health. Scott McKeown of MEASURE Evaluation paints a vivid picture of the capital city of Conakry and of efforts to help Guinea improve its data collection and data use. Click here: http://www.measureevaluation.org/news/ebola-diaries.