By State House Communication Unit
Following a presidential salute and inspection of guard of honour at the Makeni City Council ahead of the laying of foundation stone for the construction of a police academy in Makump, President Ernest Koroma has today Tuesday 24 November continued the first leg of his nationwide “thank you tour” to the Northern headquarter city of Makeni, Bombali district.
Addressing a jam-packed hall at the Makeni City Council, President Koroma expressed appreciation for the resilience shown by Sierra Leoneans as well as the international community in ending the Ebola outbreak in the country. He said when Ebola struck, much wasn’t known about the disease and it affected the socio-economic fabric of the nation adding, that the situation then prompted hard decisions and strong enforcement of the bye-laws.
He informed Makeni about the national thanksgiving service which took place in Freetown last Saturday in honouring the heroes, heroines and the faithfully departed.
The president pointed out that the declaration of Sierra Leone as Ebola free means the country has stopped the chain of transmission of the disease but however cautioned against the complications of the virus, saying that studies on the behaviour and pattern of the disease are still inconclusive. He urged all to be vigilant and continue to call 117, report the sick and deaths to avoid reversal of gains in defeating the evil virus. President Koroma cited the recent reports coming from neighbouring Liberia of new confirmed cases of Ebola, and therefore called for vigilance and monitoring of activities in communities.
He informed that the country now has increased capacity to handle any future outbreaks.
To the health workers, President Koroma encouraged them to continue to put on their protective gears and ensure that all dead bodies are swabbed before burial.
He said government will continue to carry on with dignified and safe burial on people that exhibit Ebola like symptoms before their demise. “Survivors must continue to go for their regular testing and refrain from unsafe sexual activities,” he stressed.
The head of state explained that the post-Ebola recovery programme is geared towards enabling the nation and the citizenry to get back to normalcy. He said the 6-9 month programme will build a strong health system, condusive educational environment, provide seedlings to farmers, cash transfers to families and other livelihood packages.
Delivering a statement at the ceremony, CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh profusely thanked Ebola frontline workers, including health workers, the military as well as the police for their tremendous work in ending the outbreak in the country. He also paid glowing tribute to paramount chiefs in enforcing the bye-laws during the height of the epidemic.
Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh warned that Ebola is not completely over citing the recent spike in Liberia and encouraged all to continue to call the 117 toll free line.
He underscored the significance of swabbing to ascertain the cause of deaths and to avoid possible transmission of the disease.
He furthered that the outbreak has taught Sierra Leoneans to be united, review some of their cultural practices, obeying rules and regulations and bye-laws, decentralisation and local ownership.
The NERC CEO explained that paramount chiefs have a pivotal role to play in the development of their communities and by doing that; districts, chiefdoms and regions will develop.
Diana Konomanyi, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, in her address thanked all for their efforts in ending the Ebola outbreak.
She also thanked all response workers for their resilience in defeating the disease.
She emphasized that the bye-laws still stand and people should continue to abide by them.
Climaxing the event, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on behalf of the paramount chiefs presented a hammock to Peter West, the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone.
The 19 local councils also presented a local Gara shirt and the Local government Ministry also presented a Gara bedspread to the British High Commissioner as a form of appreciation in ending the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone.