Our efforts to tackle the Ebola virus in West Africa were among the most challenging in our history. When the number of new Ebola cases finally dropped in Sierra Leone, it was a welcome relief.

But soon we learned of a new problem facing Ebola survivors. An increasing number suffered from an eye disease called uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

Thousands of people had survived one of the worst epidemics in the world, only to face the loss of their vision.

We needed to find as many Ebola survivors as possible and screen them for uveitis. Roughly 100 of our community health workers, many of them Ebola survivors themselves, fanned out across the district in which we work to spread the word about uveitis and its risks.

Going house to house, they convinced neighbors and community members wary of doctors and hospitals to come to an eye clinic we had established with the Ministry of Health. In just one month, we screened 277 people and successfully treated 50 more for uveitis.

Based on our success, we worked with government and international partners to expand this work nationally. In June, we coordinated screenings and treatments for Ebola survivors across the country, in every district. Again, our community health workers proved vital in finding these survivors and getting them to treatment. Ultimately, we screened 3,058 Ebola survivors and treated 379 for uveitis.

These are the transformations we strive for, and see, daily. And it’s because of our community-based model that our care is successful. In our work around the world, we visit people in their homes to check vital signs, encourage them to take their medicine, and determine when they need more advanced care. Then we connect them with that care.

“People helping people. That’s what I do,” says Mohamed Lamin Jarrah, a community health worker in Kono District, Sierra Leone. “I have witnessed the darkest moments of my neighbor’s life, and I have seen the joy of relief in their eyes. There are thousands like me, willing to do the hardest work there is.”

You are an integral part of this work. With your partnership, we provide the kind of one-on-one care that heals and saves lives. As you accompany us, we accompany our patients.

 

We Go. We Make House Calls. We Build Health Systems. We Stay.

See Partners In Health's full 2016 Annual Report.