Beating the Odds: Providing Hope for MDR-TB Patients in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) has been devastating, with patients having limited access to proper diagnosis and care. Since 2017, Partners in Health (PIH) has been working to transform treatment by supporting Lakka Government Hospital, now the leading provider of MDR-TB care in the country. Their expansion of services and introduction of more effective regimens have led to a 75% cure rate, far above the global average of less than 60%.

A key part of PIH’s approach is providing social support to destitute patients. Many arrive with nothing, having been abandoned by family. They receive food, clothes, counseling, and even housing assistance. While long hospital stays can be demoralizing, staff make daily rounds to encourage patients. Entertainment options are still minimal, though the goal is to stabilize patients’ health enough to continue treatment from home.

Success stories like Saio Kamara’s show the impact of PIH’s commitment. After over two years of intensive inpatient and outpatient care, she was cured and reunited with her children, despite community doubts. Still, challenges remain in decentralizing access across Sierra Leone and acquiring resources like ambulances.

Nevertheless, Lakka Hospital has treated over 900 MDR-TB patients free of charge and is paving the way for similar facilities nationwide. With the government’s support, PIH is working to ensure life-saving care reaches all those who need it. More people now have hope in the face of this devastating illness.

Read the full article on the Partners in Health website.

Watch a video of a doctor providing MDR-TB care in Sierra Leone:

For many years, Dr. Girum B. Tefera has treated patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis—from his home country of Ethiopia to now Sierra Leone. Since 2019, he has led MDR-TB care at PIH-supported Lakka Government Hospital.

Read about Partners in Health Sierra Leone programs.

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