By the African Young Voices Newspaper :
The President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma has officially launched the First Lady’s Ebola Resistant Behaviour Change Initiative, engaging traditional and cultural establishments in the Ebola response at the Bank Of Sierra Leone Complex, Kingtom, Freetown.
Giving the Keynote address, President Koroma said the Ebola disease has greatly affected the nation but that as a government they are working tirelessly to have it curtailed. The Ebola disease, he went on, is still spreading from one person to another amidst the interventions of foreign aids and advice given by the health workers. The reason for such a spread, he noted is the refusal of some traditional and societal heads to stop all traditional and cultural practices.
The President said the spread of the Ebola disease will continue unless “we stop the mode of transmission which can be done through isolation of affected people, safe burial practice etc.”
President Koroma commended the First lady’s initiative and called on the traditional leaders and rulers to ensure they support it with all sincerity and allow their subjects or members practice activities that are safe. He gave the traditional leaders a 21-day ultimatum, within which, he said, they should do all within their domain to drastically reduce the infection rate of the Ebola disease particularly in the western area.
In her statement, the First Lady, Sia Nyama Koroma thanked the traditional leaders, rulers and heads of secret societies for the roles they’ve played so far in the fight against the Ebola disease.
She said such a vision of engaging traditional and cultural establishments in Ebola response came not by a mistake as it is no secret that all aspects have been affected by the Ebola disease adding that she is optimistic that the engagement of these traditional heads will help greatly in curtailing the disease especially when efforts like hand washing, sensitizations, implementation of byelaws among others have been exhausted.
The First Lady said as traditional healers, rulers and heads of different secret societies they are the best people to talk to their subjects and members as within that unit they command huge respect. She admonished those present to stop all cultural and traditional practices for now and continue in the fight against Ebola so as to ensure that everything becomes normal again.
Country Director of Plan International Sierra Leone, Casely Atto Coleman said Plan is delighted to support the project in continuation of its commitment to the ongoing efforts to end Ebola in the country.
With Funding and capacity support from Plan Sierra Leone, the Ebola Resistant Behavior Change Initiative he said, will reach out to Paramount Chiefs, secret society leaders, traditional and religious leaders across the country.
He furthered by saying that through this initiative, it is anticipated that plan Sierra Leone and the office of the First Lady will see measurable behavior change while on the other hand, would help build Ebola resilient behaviors and practices.
The launch of the First Lady’s Ebola Resistant Behaviour Change Initiative, brought together representatives from different secret societies and organizations, ministers of cabinet, members of parliament, among others.