Health in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a small country in West Africa with a population of just over six million people. The country experienced a brutal civil war between 1991 and 2002, during which 50,000 civilians were killed and 2.5 million displaced.

After returning to stability and peaceful democratic elections, the country was dealt another blow with the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015, which caused the deaths of nearly 4,000 people in Sierra Leone. The outbreak had a devastating impact on the country’s health workforce; in Sierra Leone alone over 200 doctors and nurses lost their lives.

As Sierra Leone transitions from the Ebola response to a focus on building a strong and resilient health system, it will prioritise the following health challenges:

  • Sierra Leone faces a “double burden” of disease, meaning both communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are responsible for a high proportion of deaths and disability. Infectious diseases such as malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS are the leading causes of deaths and illness, but death and disability from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stroke are increasingly common
  • Although health services for women and children have improved dramatically, the under-five mortality rate (161 per 1,000 live births) and the maternal morality ratio (1,100 per 100,000 live births) are amongst the highest in the world. The Ministry has declared maternal and child health as one of the key result areas in its 10-24 month Recovery Plan 
  • There is a critical shortage of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and specialists in the Sierra Leone, with an estimated 235 Sierra Leonean doctors serving a population of 6.9 million people. This was worsened by the Ebola outbreak during which, over 200 doctors and nurses died.

The King’s Sierra Leone Partnership is dedicated to supporting our Sierra Leone partners to meet these health challenges.