UNFPA’s First Response to Ebola in Kailahun

A Community Health Worker (CHW) conducts a contact tracing exercise to combat the Ebola outbreak in Kailahun, Sierra Leone
A Community Health Worker (CHW) conducts a contact tracing exercise to combat the Ebola outbreak in Kailahun, Sierra Leone


In May 2014, Sierra Leone detected its first case, ever, of Ebola and by end of July it had surpassed neighbouring Guinea for number of positive cases. In order to contain the outbreak in Kailahun district, the Government of Sierra Leone along with Implementing Partners (IPs) galvanised community based interventions. UNFPA offered its support by deploying community contact tracers in the 13 chiefdoms of the Kailahun District.


UNFPA has currently trained a total of 300 Community Health Workers (CHWs) as community contact tracers in those 13 chiefdoms through District Health Management Teams (DHMTs). Community contact tracers follow-up  with contacts (people linked to confirmed Ebola cases or probable Ebola cases) and monitor whether those contacts exhibit signs and symptoms of Ebola based on the epidemiological case definition, which includes fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. The contact tracers give daily updates on the status of the contacts to the chiefdom supervisors who collect data from their respective chiefdoms and submit to the District Ebola Task Force through the District Surveillance Officer. Community deaths or Cases manifesting signs of Ebola, also referred to as “Alerts”, are communicated with ambulance teams for prompt referral to the Case Management Centres or Burial teams for safe burial within 24 hours.


Confirmed cases from the laboratory are line listed by the Surveillance team and new contacts are added for follow-up visits by Community Contact Tracers for a period of 21 days.

This triangulated intervention ensures early detection and referral of cases and safe burials of community death to prevent new infection.


Within the period of 1st – 21st July, a total of 2,133 (87%) contacts were monitored out of 2,458 listed and 87 (3.5%) showed signs and symptoms of Ebola. Contacts with detected signs and symptoms are taken to “holding centres” where blood samples are collected for laboratory confirmation and referred to Case Management Centres in Kailahun and Kenema.

91 (3.7%) contacts have completed the 21 day monitoring period with no signs and symptoms based on the epidemiological definition and have been discharged from the monitoring list.