As of May 25, 2015, Sierra Leone has recorded a total of 8,608 confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with 4,014 cumulative survivors and 3,542 laboratory confirmed deaths . The epidemic which has ravaged Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia has been characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks to date.
FOCUS 1000 is supporting the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone, development partners, and civil society in addressing the current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic. CDC supported FOCUS 1000 to conduct the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) studies on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and Medical Care in Sierra Leone, in collaboration with UNICEF and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The findings are now informing the national social mobilization efforts.
Knowledge Attitudes and Practice studies drive Ebola response
In May 2014, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) struck Sierra Leone bringing progress in health and development to a halt. At its onset some of the messages were not too clear and even lead to confusion and fear.. As the months progressed it became evident that their efforts were being met with resistance as the number of deaths and infection rates increased. These incidences highlighted the need for a better understanding of the situation on the ground to develop a strategic approach to this deadly virus that informed and created opportunities for behaviour and social change.
Recognizing the importance of using data to drive evidence based strategies and interventions in the fight against Ebola, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined forces with FOCUS 1000 with UNICEF and CRS to conduct a series of studies to determine the Knowledge Attitude and Practice (KAP) on Ebola Virus Disease Prevention and Medical Care in Sierra Leone. The first study was conducted in August 2014, and provided the Government and partners a baseline on the knowledge, perception and behaviour of the public to Ebola. This informed and guided government and partners in developing a strategic approach for social mobilization and communication.
A follow up KAP 2 study covering all four regions and fourteen districts in Sierra Leone was conducted in October 2014. The objective of the follow up study was mainly to assess changes in knowledge, attitudes, and practices as compared to the KAP 1 baseline in August 2014 so as to identify gaps and prioritize areas of urgent need.
With more technical support from CDC and UNICEF, the recently completed KAP 3 in February 2015, showed comprehensive knowledge on Ebola, however, this was much lower in the North (47%) compared to the South (57%); with continued resistance to shifting traditional burial rites in identified hotspots; and highlighting boosters that have helped to change traditional practices particularly in relation to burials. This study also showed the impact of social mobilization in stemming the spread of the virus and has indicated areas for intervention as government develops plans with partners post Ebola.