Providing healthcare to Ebola survivors: A qualitative exploratory investigation of healthcare providers' views and experiences in Sierra Leone
James, Peter Bai
Bah, Abdulai Jawo
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James, P.B., Wardle, J., Steel, A., Adams, J., Bah, A.J. and Sevalie, S. (2020) ‘Providing healthcare to Ebola survivors: A qualitative exploratory investigation of healthcare providers’ views and experiences in Sierra Leone’, Global Public Health, 15(9), pp. 1380–1395. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2020.1762105.
Although the experiences of healthcare workers regarding caring for Ebola patients during the West African Ebola outbreak have been explored, little is known about healthcare workers' experiences in providing care to Ebola survivors. We employed a qualitative design to address this gap in the literature. Healthcare providers described the health complaints of Ebola survivors as similar to those of ordinary patients, but disproportionately frequent and severe. During the Ebola outbreak, fear of infection with the Ebola virus affected healthcare providers' confidence to provide care to survivors leading to the provision of symptomatic or no treatment. At the close of the Ebola outbreak, healthcare providers cited previous experience in providing care to Ebola patients, being more knowledgeable, peer support, commitment to professional duty and the implementation of the CPES programme as motivators that helped boost their confidence to providing care. However, healthcare providers described the unavailability of medicines, the inability to undertake laboratory investigations, the lack of access to specialised care and uncoordinated referrals from peripheral health units as their current challenges to providing care. Such enablers and barriers need to be prioritised within the Sierra Leone health system to further strengthen initiatives aimed at improving healthcare delivery to Ebola survivors.