As the fight against Ebola gathers momentum, President Ernest Bai Koroma on Saturday 1st November reiterated the need for traditional and religious leaders, the youth and all citizens to be disciplined and redouble their efforts in the fight to stop and eradicate the spreading Ebola virus disease in the country. He made this admonition during a working visit to Kenema and Moyamba districts where he inspected the Ebola Treatment Center being managed by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and also visited the construction site for a 100 bed Ebola Treatment Unit in Moyamba funded by the British government respectively.
President Koroma urging Sierra Leoneans to be disciplined to win the war against Ebola. Seen here at the Kenema City Hall
After watching a power point presentation by the District Medical Officer Dr Mohamed A. Vandi on the Kenema story of the response to the outbreak, which has been very remarkable so far, President Koroma said that it was quite clear that being infected with Ebola does not mean the end of the world. “We have to rise up and fight against Ebola and if we fight properly we are not only going to fight Ebola, we are also going to fight against the infection of others.”
“Today, I want to encourage the people of Kenema to continue doing the good things that they have been doing up to this time,” the president said, and added that the initial fear, ignorance and lack of knowledge even among health workers served as a serious challenge to the fight against Ebola. “But with time we have tried to address these issues as you have seen from the presentation. The people have become more knowledgeable. The fear has gone. The health workers have equipped themselves better. The communities were not having enough information on the virus, lots of sensitization has taken place, paramount chiefs, political parties, civil societies, parliamentarians have all been involved and if we arrived at a situation where everybody has been involved and where Kenema is telling a good story, I think we need to take a new approach,” he explained.
The Commander-in-Chief therefore urged all Sierra Leoneans to be disciplined and stop doing the things that accelerate the transmission of the disease. He noted that specialized burial teams, well-trained contact tracers and surveillance officers, hygienists, clinicians, adequate treatment and holding centers as the ammunition needed to win the war against the Ebola virus disease. All that is required now, he said, is discipline. “We could have all of these things (like what the British, Chinese, Americans, Cubans, the UN, the EU are doing for us now), but if we don’t stop doing the wrong things, we are only going to fill these holding and treatment centers. Every week we will be filling them because we cannot stop the transmission. We cannot continue like this,” President Koroma stated.
NERC CEO Paolo Conteh paid tribute to health workers and urged Sierra Leoneans to be disciplined.
Mayor of Kenema City JS Kelfala said the Free Health Care was in danger amid the ongoing Ebola outbreak not only in Kenema but in other districts in the country. He called on the president to continue to pay serious attention to the initiative as part of his legacy. He highlighted the challenges facing the council and the efforts they were making to mitigate them.
The president and entourage arrived in both Kenema and Moyamba onboard two Merlin Mk2 helicopters operated by the 820 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Air Force. He was accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh, the Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah, Presidential Adviser Professor Monty Jones, the British High Commissioner Peter West, UNMEER Crisis Manager Amadu Kamara, DFID Ebola point-man Donal Brown, Personal Assistant to President Koroma Brian Gilpin and the State Chief of Protocol Ambassador Rasie Kargbo.
Guards of honour were mounted in both Kenema and Moyamba by detachments of the 5th Infantry Brigade of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.