1st Ebola Clinic For Pregnant Women Opens In Sierra Leone

Huffington Post

A new clinic is giving some of the most vulnerable Ebola patients a better chance at surviving the virus.

The facility -- located in a former boys' high school in the capital city of Freetown -- is the first care center created specifically for pregnant women since the current outbreak began, Reuters reported.

It is operated by Doctors Without Borders -- a leading charity in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

"Pregnant women (with Ebola) are a high-risk group so they have less chance than ... the rest of the population," Esperanza Santos, one of the organization's field coordinators, told Reuters.

Although medical experts aren't certain why, women who have Ebola and are pregnant have much lower survival rates, according to the outlet. The New Yorker reported that a 1995 study on an Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, Zaire, found that the virus killed 14 of 15 pregnant women it infected -- a dramatically higher figure than the 70 percent overall death rate found by the World Health Organization during the current epidemic.

What's more, women have higher infection rates of Ebola, as they are more likely to be health care workers and take care of ill family members, increasing the likelihood they'll come in contact with the virus.

Pregnant women are also especially vulnerable patients in West African health care systems that are disheveled by the outbreak, The Washington Post reported. While many medical treatments can be deferred, the arrival of a child cannot, the source pointed out: Women who've gone into labor in Ebola-inflicted areas risk being denied access to hospitals, as medical staff do not want to expose the woman to patients who have Ebola.

Compared to the summer of 2013, the number of infants delivered by a skilled birth attendant in Liberia dropped from 52 percent to 38 percent, according to WHO.

According to figures released by WHO on Jan. 4, at least 8,235 people have died from Ebola, and more than 20,700 have been infected by the outbreak, CBS News reported. While transmission rates appear to be slowing in the hardest-hit nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, six out of 10 patients who are currently hospitalized due to the virus will die.


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