By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte
Since President Ernest Bai Koroma embarked on his social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola there has been considerable progress made to break the chain of transmission of the disease.
The significance of his tours to virtually every district in the country is that paramount chiefs, religious leaders, traditional and cultural society heads, MPs, Councilors and other stakeholders had come to accept and believe that they shoulder the responsibility of driving the virus out of their communities. It is this social mobilization by the president that has turned out to be a game changer in the fight to break the chain of transmission of the disease and ultimately eradicate it from Sierra Leone.
If you take community alerts for Bombali district as an example, you would notice that there was a total of 1, 250 alerts for sick, death and false reports covering the period 1st December 2014 to 8th January 2015. The above data suggests that people are now more informed on the reporting channel and have tremendously complied with the health guidelines and byelaws imposed to stop the further spread of Ebola. It also means that the Command, Control and Coordination Center is doing its work.
Furthermore, between 1st December and 8th January, a total number of 831 blood and swab samples were collected to ascertain the health conditions of each affected individual whether dead or alive. Within this period, the 831 samples (392 Blood and 419 swab) were submitted to the Mateneh laboratory for diagnosis, 132 samples (105 Blood and 27 swab) were positive which account for 16% and 697 samples (307 Blood and 390 swab) were EVD negative which account for 84% drop in new cases over the period.
Moreover, the total number of holding center beds available in the entire Bombali district is 297. Only 27 of those beds are occupied. This also depicts a 90% drop in bed occupancy at holding centers.
In addition, the total number of beds available at treatment centres in the district is 160. Only 19 of those beds are currently occupied, which also shows an 88% drop in bed occupancy at Ebola Treatment Units in Bombali.
Of the 104 beds available at the MSF run Ebola treatment center in Bo district only 40 are in use now.
The foregoing implies a general optimistic view of events as the president’s social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) gathers momentum. The World Health Organization has said that “there are signs that case incidence may have leveled off in Sierra Leone, although with 248 new confirmed cases reported in the week to 4 January 2015, it remains by far the worst-affected country at present.”
What is needed now more than ever before is to sustain these efforts and remain vigilant like the president said over the weekend to the people of Kambia, Port Loko, Bombali and Tonkolili districts.
If Pujehun can attain the stipulated 42 days period without recording a single case of Ebola, why can’t all other districts achieve this feat? We must redouble our efforts to, as President Koroma would usually say; “Give a final push” to eradicate this “evil virus” that has hamstrung our socio-economic life and threatened our cultural and traditional beliefs.
More district analyses to come…Stay tuned.