Declared in March 2014, the Ebola epidemic significantly impacted the health system and communities in Guinea. Community quarantines were an impediment to life saving community-based activities such as vitamin A supplementation. This paper describes how the government and partners use an innovative sequential strategy to overcome this bottleneck and provide vitamin A to children during the Ebola Outbreak.
The strategy consisted of outreach campaigns targeting children, first in Ebola free districts and during the 90 days of heightened surveillance (no case notified for 42 days) in the affected districts. Rigorous hygiene measures (systematic hand washing before and after contact, wearing gloves) along with communication and social mobilization onvitamin Asafety were implemented to address community resistance.
The first outreach campaign was conducted in November 2014 and covered 19 of the 38 districts in Guinea. Subsequent rounds were carried out in March, April, June and December 2015. Overall, 76% of the targeted 1.7 million children aged 6-59 months were supplemented with Vitamin A, and 74% aged 12-59 months were dewormed with mebendazole despite the epidemic.
Providing basic health and nutrition services such as vitamin A supplementation and deworming has been shown to be feasible and well accepted by communities in Guinea on the heels of the Ebola epidemic, thanks to an appropriate safety and communication strategy.