Sierra Leoneans who lost family members to the deadly 2014-2016 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak will now have the opportunity to identify the graves of their loved ones.This comes courtesy of a National Ebola Database produced by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, APA learnt in Freetown on Monday.
The database, which was officially launched over the weekend, is a product of the Sierra Leone Ebola Database (SLED) Family Reunification program implemented by the National Public Health Emergency Center under the Health Ministry, alongside the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners.
Over 11, 000 people died from the epidemic which began in neighboring Guinea and spread to Liberia and then Sierra Leone.
There were few cases elsewhere in Africa, Europe and the US as a result of the
But most of the fatalities were recorded in the three hardest hit countries.
Sierra Leone alone recorded about 4, 000 deaths, according to WHO figures.
Many of those were buried in unmarked graves.
The inability of people to identify the graves of their loved ones served as hindrance to the fight against the epidemic at some point.
Officials say the National Ebola Database is made up of information recorded during the epidemic by thousands of surveillance officers, burial team members, laboratory technicians, and data managers across the country.
A statement from the US embassy, a copy of which was sent to APA, noted that the SLED Team of Sierra Leonean and CDC data managers was able to organize and collect more than 500,000 alerts, burial, and other patient records, to create the “most complete collection” of data from the epidemic.
Officials say while the primary objective of the project is to assist family members to locate the graves of their loved ones, it also offers the opportunity for public health research by providing secure data access via the CDC Research Data Center.
Dr. Amara Jambai, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, said the database represented the most comprehensive imaging of all efforts around the epidemic in the country.
“From our contact tracers to the gravesites, we have linked data that can speak sense to one another,” said Jambai in the statement.
“The SLED is a reservoir for future researchers, with relevant data to not only improve healthcare delivery, but also take scientific research to the next level.” he added.