By State House Communications Unit
President Ernest Bai Koroma on Thursday 8 January received the newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Mr Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed at State House, Freetown.
Welcoming the delegation, President Koroma stated that the United Nations response has increased substantially, adding that there is a huge improvement in national capacity, particularly in laboratory and bed capacity which are being evenly distribution across the country albeit concentrated in hot spots. As a result of these increases, the president said the focus now is to be more efficient in national coordination and be more vigilant in contact tracing and surveillance activities. “This is no time to be complacent,’’ he said, and called for more intervention in contact tracing, surveillance and monitoring. He disclosed that he will resume his social mobilization drive across the country for community involvement and ownership in a bid to break the chain of transmission.
President Koroma expressed the need to reaching zero new infections before the first quarter of the year. “We have to work harder and ensure no mistakes are made and make sure we reach zero new infection.” He also mentioned the need to strengthen the health sector after the Ebola outbreak.
Mr Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed commended the president for his leadership of the national response and more importantly his social mobilization drive for community involvement in the fight against Ebola. “This is extremely important,’’ he stressed. He accentuated the significance of government’s leadership, community involvement and an efficient coordination mechanism in the overall response to the outbreak. The new UNMEER boss added that strong political leadership and behavioural change have an exponential role in defeating the virus. He pledged his commitment in providing technical support, support in terms of treatment centres, labs and effective coordination, and to ensure the health care delivery system is strengthened.
The Assistant Director General and Ebola point man of the World Health Organization Mr. Bruce Aylward expressed the need to capitalize on the increased national capacity in halting the spread of the virus. Whilst expressing the behaviour-driven approach to defeat the virus, he emphasized that it is the communities that control the end of the virus backed by extraordinary actions to halt the spread. He urged the president to continue to take the message to religious and traditional leaders across the country in his social mobilization drive, which has turned out to be a game changer so far.