Sierra Leone Health

Sierra Leone Health

As a country located in Western Africa according to computerannals, Sierra Leone currently ranks 181st out of 189 countries examined in the 2018 report of the UN Development Program for Human Development (Human Development Index: HDI), with a slight upward trend since 2001. Before the civil war, Sierra Leone occupied after a brief positive development phase after independence in 1961, the last ranks of the HDI since the 1980’s. The growth rate of the population is around 2%, the economic growth has been between 8 and 20% since the start of iron ore mining at the end of 2011. Statistical data like this are used on various subjects by the World Bank provided. Additional overviews on key statistical data on the state, economy and society also provide the statistical office of Sierra Leone, the Statistical Division of the UN and the CIA World Factbook. Basic information in German is provided by the Federal Foreign Office.

Outline map of Sierra Leone

Outline map of Sierra Leone

Newborn baby in a clinic

Newborn baby in a clinic

The health care in Sierra Leone will be paid in part by the state and partly by NGOs. During the civil war, medical treatment was only possible in a few cases. The health system under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has been reformed in recent years.

In 2010, with support from the UK and the UN, a free care program for pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of five was introduced to reduce high maternal and child mortality. Until 2008, this was the highest in an international comparison. In addition to the high death rate, in cases of complications during childbirth, it is often not possible to reach a hospital and the necessary help quickly enough. Due to this inadequate care, labor can take days that lead to injuries and fistulas. These in turn are often associated with incontinence and the resulting social exclusion.

The situation of women and young children has improved, even if it is still unsatisfactory. However, the rest of the population still does not have sufficient access to basic health care, partly because there is a lack of funds and partly because parts of the health system are suffering from corruption. The rural areas in particular are extremely inadequately equipped. The population pays for this with an overall poor state of health and an average life expectancy of 58 years.

In Sierra Leone epidemics of yellow fever, cholera, Lassa fever and meningitis occur again and again. Malaria is a common threat to both children and adults.

A whole new threat to West Africa was the outbreak of an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which also affected Sierra Leone. As of January 16, 2016, there were more than 11,315 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, of which 3,955 were in Sierra Leone. The weaknesses of the health system are in

this situation became very evident.

The experience of the Ebola epidemic is still very present in Sierra Leone and has led to swift action when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Even before a single Corona case was diagnosed, the airport was closed on March 22, the borders were closed, and events with more than 100 people were canceled. The schools were closed at the end of March, and teaching units for different age groups were offered on the radio as an alternative.

As of November 30, 2020, 2,412 people had tested positive for Covid-19, 74 people had died of the disease. For the large part of the population who spends their daily income directly on food and has no financial reserves, the lockdown and limited work opportunities were more threatening than the risk of infection. The conditions of poverty have worsened again.

All people within the country are requested to adhere to the basic hygiene and distance rules and to avoid large crowds. It is compulsory to wear mouth and nose protection in public.


Sierra Leone has an HIV / AIDS infection rate of 1.6% (adults between 15 and 49 years of age). It is slightly above the international average of one percent and does not (yet) belong to the high prevalence countries. The prevalence of HIV / AIDS is recorded statistically by the National HIV / AIDS Secretariat, and various prevention programs are coordinated. The programs are implemented by non-governmental organizations. Sierra Leone received an award in 2010 for its efforts to date to achieve the Sixth Millennium Development Goal to halt the spread of HIV.

Traditional medicine

Magical thinking is widespread in Sierra Leone and membership of Islam or Christianity often does not preclude membership in a secret society. The Civil Defense Force or Kamajors also let their healers make themselves invulnerable according to their own ideas. However, they also have traditional knowledge about the effects of medicinal plants. Their services are therefore gladly used, especially since there is a healer in almost every village.

During the Ebola epidemic, traditional healers were initially involved in spreading the virus because they were turned to by many people who did not trust the public health system. In the course of the Ebola outbreak, however, the need to integrate traditional medicine more closely into the health system also became apparent. The Association of Traditional Healers is now campaigning for this.