In collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross Society and the Liberian National Red Cross Society, HealthBridge conducted a rapid assessment of the impact that the Ebola outbreak had on an existing community-based health project that worked with community health volunteers to provide basic treatment for child illnesses (pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria) at the community level. Using a combination of project monitoring data from the registers that each volunteer uses, a survey of the volunteers, focus group discussions with volunteers and interviews with health staff and project staff, we tried to understand what role the volunteers had in the midst of the crisis. Our findings revealed that community-based treatment of child diarrhea and pneumonia continued throughout the outbreak, a positive thing for families living in these communities. As expected, there was a slight decrease in the number of cases treated during the height of the outbreak and this was attributed to the government’s directives not to touch others, lack of essential medicines and fear of contracting Ebola. Volunteers were also heavily engaged in communication of Ebola awareness and prevention messages.
We concluded that investments in community-based health service delivery contributed to continued access to lifesaving treatment for child pneumonia and diarrhea during the Ebola outbreak. To maximize the effectiveness of these interventions during a crisis, training of volunteers in infection prevention, strengthening drug supply chain management, and finding alternative ways to provide supportive supervision are recommended.
Results of this study are expected to be published in the near future.