WHO is working with the Ebola-affected countries in developing plans and strategies for the safe reactivation of essential health services and longer term health system functions.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak shone a light on fragile health systems in West Africa. The severity of the outbreak was caused in large part by the weakness of the health systems, which were stretched to function well beyond their limited capacity. The delivery of services was severely disrupted. In Liberia, the epidemic contributed to a 61% decline in outpatient visits.
Sierra Leone experienced a 39% decline in children being treated for malaria and a 21% drop in children receiving basic immunizations. Similarly, at the height of the epidemic, in Guinea, primary medical consultations dropped by 58%, hospitalizations by 54%, and vaccinations by 30% compared to 2013.
Recovering from the outbreak requires governments to drive the safe reactivation of essential health services within the context of ongoing response activities. Early recovery efforts aim to tackle pre-existing health system constraints that contributed to the late detection and rampant spread of the virus. Immediate recovery efforts are laying the foundations for a stronger, more resilient health system. This presents an opportunity to "build back better" both at the national level and across borders.
WHO has taken a proactive leadership role in supporting the 3 affected countries as they develop their post-Ebola health system recovery and resilience-building plans, outline strategies for the safe reactivation of essential health services and longer term health system functions.