Fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone

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SIERRA LEONE MADE headlines in 2014 for being one of the hardest-hit countries in the largest Ebola outbreak since the first reported case in the 1970s. Sierra Leone, a nation smaller than the state of Texas, sits on the Northwestern coast of Africa. It's one of Africa's poorest countries; most people survive by subsistence farming and earn less than $2 per day.1 Sierra Leone's poverty is juxtaposed with its immense natural resources, which include diamonds, titanium, iron, and gold. However, years of civil war and government corruption have significantly impaired the country's infrastructure, including medical care. These conditions set the stage for the recent Ebola virus outbreak.
I've had the opportunity to provide medical care in Africa in the past, and my passion for international medicine is shared with many of my colleagues. This article relates the experiences of my friend “Holly,” a nurse who went to Sierra Leone shortly after the epidemic began. Holly began her nursing career in 2005 as a labor and delivery nurse, and has remained in that career specialty. In 2014, she resigned her hospital position in the United States and joined a group of medical professionals to work in Sierra Leone shortly after the Ebola outbreak began. Employed by a humanitarian aid agency based in the United States, Holly worked as a nurse in the labor and delivery unit of one of the larger hospitals in Sierra Leone.
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