By State House Communications Unit :
The issue of the role of paramount chiefs and religious leaders in the fight against Ebola was once more the focus of the town hall meeting held by President Ernest Bai Koroma with Kono stakeholders at the Diamond Hotel auditorium, Yengema, in the eastern diamond rich district of Kono.
During his visit, President Koroma urged traditional leaders in particular to enforce the bye-laws to help stop and eradicate the spreading disease.
“The responsibility rests with you the paramount chiefs, councilors, heads of secret societies and religious leaders to ensure no new case emerge from your chiefdoms because you would be held responsible,” President Koroma maintained.
He explained that government’s major priority now is to stop the transmission of the disease by rigidly enforcing the laws through a Command and Control structure at national, district, chiefdom and village levels.
President Koroma also stated that no one has the authority to diagnose any illness except health workers through blood sample testing, and added that even if the best treatment centers are assembled in Kono, the only way Ebola can be stopped is by adhering to the precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
The president encouraged the people of Kono to avoid touching and washing corpses as a means of containing the further spread of Ebola. He reiterated the need for discipline and full enforcement of law and order in the fight against the dreadful disease, saying that the state of emergency was still in full force.
He informed Kono chiefs of government’s determination to ensure Sierra Leoneans are not stigmatized by Ebola, and said that although the country experienced one of the most debilitating civil wars in Africa, its speed at post conflict recovery was lauded by all. He therefore urged them to continue along the same path.
President Koroma also emphasized that no one is above the law; “People always say orders from above…well, the highest above is here today to tell you that the law is the law and anybody who takes upon him/herself to violate the law, will face the full penalty of the law.” He disclosed that he ordered the arrest of some people in Kono following the riot that led to further spread of the disease in the district, and warned that those who would be found culpable will be prosecuted through the due process.
He called on the people of Kono to focus on development as the power house was being turned on, and avoid preaching division, hatred and tribalism in the country.
Presenting the district Ebola update, District Medical Officer Dr Manso Dumbuya said Kono has 62 confirmed cases, 10 survivors, 31 deaths, 78 quarantined households with 345 people. He called for more vehicles, more burial teams, an increase in surveillance and monitoring, social mobilization, contact investigators and medical care for survivors.
The president and entourage also did an inspection tour of the government hospital in Koidu and the Ebola Command and Control center at Kimbadu Resettlement camp.