By State House Communication Unit
Immediately after observing the national day of thanksgiving at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown on Saturday, President Ernest Bai Koroma Sunday November 22, 2015, commenced the first leg of his “thank you tour” in the Eastern provincial city of Kenema.
In his sensitization and thank you message, President Koroma urged Sierra Leoneans to continue to call 117 when someone is sick or dies.
He commended frontline health workers for winning the fight against Ebola but however cautioned against complacency. He called on health workers to continue to put on their gloves when a sick person is taken to hospital or health facilities across the country.
The president said he was in Kenema to thank the people of the Eastern region for their concerted efforts in the fight against the Ebola virus disease, and vividly reflected on the momentous days of the outbreak saying there was a time when there was no answer to defeating the virus.
President Koroma who has been severally dubbed the Chief Social Mobilizer cited recent confirmation of new Ebola cases in Liberia even after the country was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization on two occasions, as an indication why community surveillance must be enhanced.
“We don’t want to go through the difficulties and pains we went through,” he warned, noting that before the Ebola epidemic Sierra Leone was preoccupied with development and transformation.
Acknowledging the role played by religious and traditional leaders including paramount chiefs in the fight to eradicate Ebola, President Koroma observed that the outbreak of the disease has taught Sierra Leoneans to be united and with concerted efforts the country will make significant strides in its development aspirations.
He also informed the people of Kenema about the post-Ebola recovery programme that prioritizes health, education, agriculture, social protection, the economy and the private sector.
The president further disclosed that the 24 months phase of the recovery plan is geared towards the provision of adequate water supply and access to energy, and also assured them that the roads in Kenema and Kailahun would be constructed. He urged paramount chiefs and traditional leaders to take complete ownership of the implementation of post-Ebola recovery programmes to maximise benefits for communities and eventually transform the lives of the people
On behalf of Eastern region Council of Paramount Chiefs, Chairman PC Sheku Amadu Tejan Fasuluku Sonsiama III of Tankoro chiefdom commended President Koroma and the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) for eradicating Ebola from the country, and appealed to the president to get chiefs fully involved in the implementation of the recovery plan.
Chief Executive Officer Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh underscored the need to sustain surveillance and monitoring along border areas. He urged the people to continue to call 117 and the importance of swabbing to avoid reversal of gains as well as control possible infection and transmission of the disease. He called for the review of the lessons learnt from the outbreak, obey the laws and take local ownership of the recovery programmes. He also revealed that all deaths should have a swabb certificate to ascertain the cause of death before burial.
Chairman of the programme, Minister of State – East, Maya M. Kaikai joined other speakers to thank the president for responding appropriately by healing the scars left behind by the Ebola virus disease – through the social protection scheme.
The president was later taken on a conducted tour of the Lambayama Agricultural Business Centre.
In another development, President Koroma made a stop over at Yamandu Village where he reiterated the importance of calling 117 to avoid re-emergence of the disease. At Yamandu Village, he expressed satisfaction over the fact that 500 households have benefited from financial transfers and support under the recovery scheme, and informed that they have a right to know about project implementation in their communities.
President Koroma is now in Bo city where he is reechoing pretty much the same message.