What is early recovery?
WHO is working with the Ebola-affected countries in developing plans and strategies for the safe reactivation of essential health services and longer term health system functions.
The 2014 Ebola outbreak shone a light on fragile health systems in West Africa. The severity of the outbreak was caused in large part by the weakness of the health systems, which were stretched to function well beyond their limited capacity. The delivery of services was severely disrupted. In Liberia, the epidemic contributed to a 61% decline in outpatient visits.
Sierra Leone experienced a 39% decline in children being treated for malaria and a 21% drop in children receiving basic immunizations. Similarly, at the height of the epidemic, in Guinea, primary medical consultations dropped by 58%, hospitalizations by 54%, and vaccinations by 30% compared to 2013.
Recovering from the outbreak requires governments to drive the safe reactivation of essential health services within the context of ongoing response activities. Early recovery efforts aim to tackle pre-existing health system constraints that contributed to the late detection and rampant spread of the virus. Immediate recovery efforts are laying the foundations for a stronger, more resilient health system. This presents an opportunity to "build back better" both at the national level and across borders.
WHO has taken a proactive leadership role in supporting the 3 affected countries as they develop their post-Ebola health system recovery and resilience-building plans, outline strategies for the safe reactivation of essential health services and longer term health system functions.
In consultation with Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the early recovery effort at WHO is focusing on 4 areas:
- Infection prevention and control, and patient safety
- National and regional surveillance systems
- Essential package of services
- Building towards a fit-for-purpose workforce
How we will get there
This early recovery work is underpinned by a wide range of cross-cutting technical areas:
- People-centred services
- Institutional health partnerships
- Information and communications technology
- Giving patients and workers the supplies they need
- Health financing
- Learning for the future
Regular data and information gathering on non-Ebola priority diseases and conditions is critical for the early recovery endeavor. The Essential Health Services Situation Report serves as a mechanism for generating timely information to monitor trends on priority diseases and the provision of essential health services.