Kodish SR, Simen-Kapeu A, Beauliere JM, Ngnie-Teta I, Jalloh MB, Pyne-Bailey S, Schwartz H, Wirth JP

February 2019 – Health Policy and Planning

To understand the nutrition challenges faced during the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, participatory workshops in Guinea and Sierra Leone were conducted in February 2017. Workshops followed the Nominal Group Technique, which is a methodological approach for idea generation and consensus building among diverse participants. Those findings were triangulated with qualitative interview data from participants representing government, United Nations bodies, civil society, nongovernmental organizations and local communities in both Guinea and Sierra Leone. In both countries, this research identified five key nutrition challenges, including reduced access and utilization of the health system, poor caretaking and infant and young child feeding practices, implementation challenges during nutrition response, household food insecurity and changing breastfeeding practices. (2) In Sierra Leone, organizational factors that facilitated this response included the use of standard operating procedures and psychosocial counselling. In contrast, in Guinea, hygiene assistance was distinctly important. Political will, Increased funding, food assistance and to a lesser extent, enhanced coordination, were deemed ‘most important’ response factors. Disease outbreaks pose widespread nutrition challenges to populations in resource-constrained settings where global health security is not a guarantee. These findings should be considered for emergency nutrition preparedness and inform evidence-based priority setting in the post-Ebola virus context of Guinea and Sierra Leone.

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