Local Authorities in Kambia and Bombali Districts have expressed serious concerns over the intricacy and involution surrounding the re-emergence of Ebola in Sierra Leone at community dialogue fora organised by the ABC Secretariat on Community Ownership between 12th and 19th September, 2015 in the respective districts.
Paramount Chiefs in the Kambia district felt that they have been sidelined in the implementation of the ‘Operation Enduring Zero’ community ownership strategy introduced by the Kambia District Ebola Response Centre aimed at managing Ebola situations in their chiefdoms. PC Bai Shebora Lion of Mambolo chiefdom said there are lapses in the community ownership strategy because Kambia District Ebola Response Centre is not directly getting them involved in matters dealing with their chiefdoms. He also complained that the mobile phones and solar chargers assigned to the town committee members for communication purposes are fake and are not working properly.
He emphasised that these are some of the reasons that led to the failure of certain Ebola strategies like Operation Northern Push and as they were also not directly involved in drawing up and implementing the budget , “even the planning we were not involved. Everything was done by National Ebola Response Centre in Freetown and sent to DREC in Kambia,” he alleged. He added that at the initial stage of the fight vehicles were assigned to them but with no fuel and they had to fuel their tanks to make sure things happen. He further said that people were coming from other districts to implement programmes in their chiefdoms, this he said is very disrespectful.
All the budget for Operation Northern Push, he said, was not reflected at chiefdom levels, however they participated because they have their people and want to win the fight.
PC Alimamy Lahai of Masongbala Chiefdom expressed that the DERC in Kambia most often turned blind eyes to their suggestions because “they think we are harassing the situation.” He reiterated that they were boycotted in the implementation of the community ownership strategy as DERC gave books and pens to town chiefs who have no formal education to do registration about the movement of people in their chiefdoms, without their knowledge. This he said is total disrespect to their authority.
He assured that if they had been directly involved they would have tracked down the Sella Kafta incident before it had blown out of proportion. He added that even the vehicles they promised to give to them for the operation were not given as promised. He advised that DERC should be listening to their concerns and find a way forward to address them.
In similar development, the Mayor of Makeni City, Madam Sunkarie Kabba Kamara expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in providing the epi link of the new Ebola Viral Disease swab+ of the 16 year old girl from Robuya Village since the agreed period of seventy-two (72) hours has expired.
She argued that prior to the new case EVD positive swab had a source of infection either animals to humans or humans to humans but this is not the case as there is no travelling history of the girl or anything like she had taken care of the sick, or has eaten bush meat.
She contended that the alleged case has nothing to do with an Ebola survivor because the last survivor from Robuya village had gone over ten (10) months and the medical experts are the very ones saying the spam cell replenishes after every 3 months. She retorted that her people are tired of Ebola and thus demand an explanation concerning the epi link of the alleged new Ebola case in Bombali district.
The chairman of the Bombali District Council disclosed that they are going to challenge the swab result of the new case to the latter; “we are demanding an establishment of a clear epi link or else we will disown the result,” he continued that even if it causes them to exhume the corpse of the late girl, they will do it.
He stressed that they have made a lot of gains in fighting against Ebola and it is very heart rendering for them to retrogress in this manner, and as Chairman of the district he will not sit back and allow his people to suffer unjustly. He called on WHO, CDC, DHMT and DERC to speedily come up with a clear epi link of the new infection.
Dr. Margret Labornoh , World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Coordinator for Ebola Response acknowledged that she has taken note of all the concerns raised by the authorities in Bombali questioning their result. She admitted that she empathized with their concerns because when the result first came out even the World Health Organisation was puzzled. She assured that every effort is being put in place to make sure the investigation is done properly. She stated that there are times when investigations are conducted people get some pieces of information but a missing puzzle. “Please bear with us,” she appealed.