New Lassa Fever Ward under construction in Kenema, Sierra Leone
The Kenema Government Hospital (KGH) in Sierra Leone is a 350-bed health facility situated in the heart of the region with the world’s highest incidence of Lassa Fever. This historic institution has functioned at the forefront of Lassa treatment and research for over two decades, ever since the world-renowned Lassa Physician, Dr. Aniru Conteh and his dedicated team of nurses and technicians moved their operations to Kenema from neighboring Segbwema in the early nineties.
In order to address the huge public health burden that Lassa Fever presents, KGH and scientists from the VHFC have developed advanced clinical and laboratory research capacity. The hospital maintains a 25-bed Lassa Ward and full-time staff dedicated to the care of patients with Lassa Fever. The grounds also house a state-of-the-art Lassa Research Laboratory, enabling local and international scientist and technicians to conduct ground-breaking research. As part of their Lassa Fever surveillance efforts, the hospital employs a team of outreach workers who collaborate with local health centers in their efforts to monitor the disease, conduct patient contact tracing and carry out community sensitization campaigns.
Aerial view of New Lassa Fever Ward at Kenema Government Hospital. Image courtesy of Jason Moses - http://jasonmoses.com/common02.html
Recently, in a project facilitated by the VHFC and other partners, the KGH research team has broken ground on a new 48-bed Lassa Ward that will replace the current facility. The building of the new ward will be managed by VHFC researchers from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and is funded by a grant from the US Naval Facilities Command (NAVFAC), AFRICOM Humanitarian Assistance Program. The new ward exemplifies the continued need for human resource and infrastructure development, as Sierra Leone strives towards creating a Center of Excellence for Lassa Fever treatment and research.