Elsewhere online
April 13, 2015

Inquiry Finds Safety Lapses at Partners in Health Ebola Site

An inquiry by international health officials found a pattern of safety deficiencies at an Ebola treatment center run by the government of Sierra Leone in collaboration with medical aid group Partners in Health, according to The New York Times. Members of the Boston-based charity's staff also complained about conditions at the facility in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, which was closed in mid-March, and American workers evacuated after two clinicians contracted the virus, one a Partners in Health employee.

Partners in Health took a prominent role in battling the West Africa Ebola outbreak despite having little crisis-response experience, pledging to provide long-term support to weak health-care systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Lapses at the Port Loko site included inadequate protective clothing and inappropriate disposal of contaminated waste products, according to an international inquiry and interviews with clinic managers.

Some staff members said the clinic should have been shuttered months earlier as patient numbers declined and two other treatment centers opened nearby, but Partners in Health said it deferred to Sierra Leonean officials who wanted it to keep running. "We knew there were gaps and places to improve,” said Sheila Davis, who heads the charity's Ebola response. "Because it was a [government] facility, it really wasn’t our say whether it opened or closed."