Felicity Fitzgerald, a British paediatrician working with the charity Save the Children, has recently returned to Sierra Leone for the fight against the Ebola virus outbreak.
This is an upsetting reality of outbreak work. When facilities are filled to the brim with needy patients, making detailed notes about what is actually happening to those patients is a rare luxury.
However if we don’t gather data we will remain in the same evidence vacuum that confronted us with this epidemic…
Epidemiologists and clinicians alike are slightly slack-jawed at the drop-off.
The most logical explanation is that sufficient community mobilization (no touching, safe burials, take sick people to hospital and DON’T look after them at home) occurred at a point when we finally achieved sufficient bed and laboratory capacity. That meant we could rapidly move patients out of the community and into Ebola Treatment Centres.
But it didn’t really feel like that. It felt like one week we were full every day with queues of people needing to be admitted, and the next we had empty beds.