IMPACT
01/13/2015 09:05 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

1st Ebola Clinic For Pregnant Women Opens In Sierra Leone

PORT LOKO, SIERRA LEONE    NOVEMBER 24: A pregnant Fatmata Kabia, 21, waits for her baby to be born after surviving Ebola in
PORT LOKO, SIERRA LEONE NOVEMBER 24: A pregnant Fatmata Kabia, 21, waits for her baby to be born after surviving Ebola in Port Loko, Sierra Leone, on Monday, November 24, 2014. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the disease. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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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BEFORE YOU GO

  • <strong>Dgenebou Soumah, 20, Coyah Prefecture</strong>
<br>
"Her fiancé came to see her when she came home, but she doesn’t k
    Livia Saavedra
    Dgenebou Soumah, 20, Coyah Prefecture
    "Her fiancé came to see her when she came home, but she doesn’t know if they will get married. Despite the death of her mother, her aunt, and her niece, she is full of life."
  • <strong>M’Balia, Coyah Prefecture </strong>
<br>
"M’Balia’s husband died in September. She is now facing extreme poverty and
    Livia Saavedra
    M’Balia, Coyah Prefecture
    "M’Balia’s husband died in September. She is now facing extreme poverty and cannot afford to feed her children every day. As a widow with two children, she has no chance of remarrying."
  • <strong>Fanta and Sydia Bangoura</strong>
<br>
"Only the little girl was infected with the disease. The children haven’t real
    Livia Saavedra
    Fanta and Sydia Bangoura
    "Only the little girl was infected with the disease. The children haven’t realized that they are now orphans. The problem of caring for children affected by the disease is becoming urgent."
  • <strong>M’Balia Sylla with her father-in-law</strong> 
<br>
"Her father-in-law has always supported her. It took a lot of per
    Livia Saavedra
    M’Balia Sylla with her father-in-law
    "Her father-in-law has always supported her. It took a lot of persuasion from the community health workers to convince her to seek treatment. She works at the nursing station at the KM 36 military barracks. Ever since she received her certificate of discharge from the military, her community has been more present."
  • <strong>Kanta, Conakry</strong>
<br>
"Kanta is from a Wahhabi family. Despite her unease and the horrible stigma she suffers,
    Livia Saavedra
    Kanta, Conakry
    "Kanta is from a Wahhabi family. Despite her unease and the horrible stigma she suffers, she wants to speak up about her experience."
  • <strong>Bengali Souma, 27</strong>
<br>
"He lost his job and has to care for his younger brother and sister. He will need to
    Livia Saavedra
    Bengali Souma, 27
    "He lost his job and has to care for his younger brother and sister. He will need to be very successful in order to reintegrate into his community, otherwise they will continue to think that he is cursed."
  • <strong>Nyanbalamou Gabou, 24</strong>
<br>
"Nyanbalamou Gabou is a medical student. He raised awareness about the disease wi
    Livia Saavedra
    Nyanbalamou Gabou, 24
    "Nyanbalamou Gabou is a medical student. He raised awareness about the disease with his neighbors before being infected. As a result, he wasn’t rejected by his community when he returned home."
  • <strong>Mamadou Sadio Bah</strong>
<br>
"Mamadou Sadio Bah is a doctor in a health center. Ever since he got sick, he has bee
    Livia Saavedra
    Mamadou Sadio Bah
    "Mamadou Sadio Bah is a doctor in a health center. Ever since he got sick, he has been working to dispel myths about the disease."
  • <strong>Fanta Camara, 25</strong>
<br>
"She works at the Ebola Treatment Center in Donka. She lost her position as a teacher
    Livia Saavedra
    Fanta Camara, 25
    "She works at the Ebola Treatment Center in Donka. She lost her position as a teacher because of her illness."
  • <strong>Fanta Cherif </strong>
<br>
"Fanta Cherif remains hidden in her house. Her friends don’t call her any more and her st
    Livia Saavedra
    Fanta Cherif
    "Fanta Cherif remains hidden in her house. Her friends don’t call her any more and her studies have been put on hold by her illness. The after-effects of the virus lasted for a long time in her case. You can recover from Ebola but still experience symptoms for up to seven weeks."
  • <strong>Fatoumata Binta</strong>
<br>
"Ever since her brother and five members of her family died, Fatoumata Binta has had to
    Livia Saavedra
    Fatoumata Binta
    "Ever since her brother and five members of her family died, Fatoumata Binta has had to take care of her younger brother. Her neighbors have closed the shutters facing her house. She is thinking about working at the Ebola center in Donka."
  • "Crazy rumors about the Ebola epidemic are making it even more difficult for health workers to do their jobs. In the absence
    Livia Saavedra
    "Crazy rumors about the Ebola epidemic are making it even more difficult for health workers to do their jobs. In the absence of treatment, the sick turn to their traditional healer, which contributes to the spread of the disease."
  • "People living in Coyah or at the KM 36 military base (shown above), who are infected with Ebola have to be treated at the Eb
    Livia Saavedra
    "People living in Coyah or at the KM 36 military base (shown above), who are infected with Ebola have to be treated at the Ebola Treatment Center in Donka Hospital in Conakry."
  • "Two of the main epicenters for the disease are in Nzerekore in Forest Guinea and in Conakry (shown above)."
    Livia Saavedra
    "Two of the main epicenters for the disease are in Nzerekore in Forest Guinea and in Conakry (shown above)."
  • "The sanitary conditions, the lack of access to running water, and poverty are preventing the population from fighting the Eb
    Livia Saavedra
    "The sanitary conditions, the lack of access to running water, and poverty are preventing the population from fighting the Ebola outbreak."
  • "A prevention poster in Conakry. The government’s delay in responding to the crisis and the 24 billion Guinean francs in cuts
    Livia Saavedra
    "A prevention poster in Conakry. The government’s delay in responding to the crisis and the 24 billion Guinean francs in cuts from the health budget at the beginning of the outbreak contributed to the overall scale of the epidemic."
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