What is healthcare in Sierra Leone like?

Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities in Sierra Leone fall critically short of U.S and European standards. There are no 911 equivalent ambulance services in Sierra Leone. Trauma care is extremely limited, and local hospitals should only be used in the event of an extreme medical emergency. Blood transfusions can be life-threatening rather than life-saving due to lack of screening and poor quality control. Many primary health care workers, especially in rural areas, lack adequate professional training. Instances of misdiagnosis, improper treatment, and the administration of improper drugs have been reported. Quality and comprehensive medical services are very limited in Freetown, and are almost nonexistent for all but the most minor treatment outside of the capital. Medicines are in short supply and due to inadequate diagnostic equipment, lack of medical resources, and limited medical specialty personnel, complex diagnosis, and treatment are unavailable. Life-threatening emergencies often require evacuation by air ambulance at the patient's expense.

Visitors with serious health concerns, e.g., diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or who are on blood thinners (with the exception of aspirin) are discouraged from traveling to Sierra Leone.

All visitors traveling to Sierra Leone must have current vaccinations prior to arrival in Freetown. These include, but are not limited to, tetanus, yellow fever, polio, meningitis, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, and rabies. The cholera vaccine is not required. The International Certificate of Vaccinations yellow card should be hand-carried as proof of current yellow fever inoculation.

Visitors should begin taking malaria prophylaxis two weeks prior to arrival, and hand-carry enough medication for the duration of their visit. It is mandatory that visitors bring their own supply of medications.

The quality of medications in Sierra Leone is inconsistent and counterfeit drugs remain a problem. Local pharmacies are generally unreliable. In the event medications are needed, such as over-the-counter medication, antibiotics, allergy remedies, or malaria prophylaxis, travelers may contact the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit to receive general information about reliable pharmacies. ACS maintains a list of physicians, clinics, and pharmacies as provided by the Embassy Health Unit.

Gastrointestinal diseases, malaria, and HIV pose serious risk to travelers in Sierra Leone. Lassa Fever is endemic in Eastern Province. Since sanitary conditions in Sierra Leone are poor and refrigeration is unreliable, use caution when eating uncooked vegetables, salads, seafood, or meats at restaurants and hotels. Only bottled water should be consumed. In the past, even some bottled water was found to be contaminated by bacteria. Swimming in the ocean is safe, but swimming in rivers is not.

Drinking Water Source - % of rural population improved"

42.4%

Drinking Water Source - % of total population unimproved:

39.9%

Drinking Water Source - % of urban population improved:

87.1%

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.6%

Hospital Bed Density - beds/1,000 population:

.4

People Living with HIV/AIDS:

49,000

Physicians Density - physicians/1,000 population:

.02

Sanitation Facility Access - % of total population unimproved:

87%

Sanitation Facility Access - % of urban population improved:

22.5%

Sanitation Facitlity Access - % of rural population improved:

6.8%

Infectious Diseases - degree of risk:

very high

Animal Contact Disease (s):

rabies

Food or Waterborne Disease (s):

bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

Soil contact disease (s):

Lassa fever

Vectorborne Disease (s):

malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever

Water contact disease (s):

schistosomiasis

Disability Access In Sierra Leone

Accessibility:

While in Sierra Leone, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, and offers no specific protections for such persons. The law does not mandate accessibility of buildings or assistance to disabled persons. There is no government policy or program to assist persons with disabilities.

Disclaimer

You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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