For two years Ebola has drastically ravaged three West African countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – and has taken the lives of 11,300 people according to the Guardian UK. Over 28,000 people were diagnosed with Ebola and still live with the pain and stigma of the disease. Since Liberia has not reported a single Ebola case in 42 days, the World Health Organization officially declared an end to the Ebola epidemic. Sierra Leone and Guinea have already been declared Ebola-free with 90 days of no new reported cases. However, just last week another Ebola case was discovered in Sierra Leone in the death of a 22-year-old woman, causing an outbreak of at least 100 people. Twenty-eight people have been quaratined.
In January I wrote that I would be looking closely at the effect of Ebola on maternal health and mortality in the Ebola-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Today unfortunate news was released by the World Bank and The Lancet.
According to the new report, Health-care worker mortality and the legacy of the Ebola epidemic and New Wave of Deaths From Ebola?: The Impact of Health Care Worker Mortality (PDF), it is estimated that 4,022 more women will die during childbirth in these countries on top of their already high maternal mortality rate due to the deaths of 240 health workers (doctors, nurses, and midwives) collectively across all three countries. Liberia lost the most health workers at 83. Guinea lost 78 and Sierra Leone lost 79 health workers. That translates to an increase of maternal deaths by 38% in Guinea, 74% in Sierra Leone, and 111% in Liberia. Due to the nature of health work a disproportionate rate of health workers died during the Ebola epidemic as opposed to the general population. Those health workers, of course, were critical to the health systems in all three countries whose systems were already on troubled ground before Ebola ravaged west Africa.