By KABS KANU :
The Sierra Leone Government Deputy Spokesman, Mr. Ajibu Tejan Jalloh, yesterday told COCORIOKO that the misuse of the social media by Sierra Leoneans was seriously affecting the country. Speaking to this newspaper , Mr. Jalloh condemned the campaign of misinformation about the Ebola outbreak and Government’s containment initiatives presently going on in the social media.
Since the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone about five months ago, the social media have been buzzing, with many Sierra Leoneans accusing the Government of engaging in a slow initial response to the outbreak. They have also been finding faults with government efforts to eradicate the disease as well as accusing the government of not handling well donations being made by international organizations, local businesses, agencies and individuals. Mr. Agibu Jalloh is concerned that most of what Sierra Leoneans are writing on social media platforms Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram etc. are far removed from the truth and are designed to tarnish the good name of the Government.
The Deputy Spokesman said that the Presidential Taskforce Communications Committee has been holding daily briefing with SLAJ complimenting the usual Thursday Ministry of Information Press Conferences and daily press briefings on TV, radio and newspapers to ensure that Sierra Leoneans received clear, cogent and accurate information about the Ebola menace and efforts being made by the Government, international organizations and goodwill nations to contain it. He however lamented that people were more interested in spreading false reports on the social media.
Mr. Jalloh cautioned Sierra Leoneans that the country was under a State of Emergency and that combative, critical, mischievous and hostile statements and allegations were counterproductive to the Ebola containment efforts and were also tarnishing the image of the country internationally. He called on all Sierra Leoneans to be patriotic and to join efforts to defeat Ebola.
Mr. Agibu Jalloh also took his time to dispel misconceptions about the 3-day Stay-At-Home beginning in Sierra Leone tomorrow. He said that the reason that it was actually being considered a four-day Stay-At-Home , instead of three, was that after President Ernest Bai Koroma’s nation-wide broadcast , which will take place this evening, the Stay-At-Home will come immediately into effect and people would be expected to move off the streets and stay home to begin observing the Stay-At-Home .
Mr. Jalloh explained what the Government hoped to accomplish from the Stay-At-Home . During the three days that everybody would be home , the Deputy Spokesman said that 3-men teams consisting a health care worker, a member of civil society or a non-governmental organization and a youth from the affected area would visit homes .The teams will seek to know from every household how much information they had about the Ebola virus and provide them information to fill in whatever gaps remained and precautions about how to stop transmission of the disease. The team will also dispel misinformation about Ebola and educate households about how to identify suspected victims of Ebola and who to call immediately. This sensitization process will go a long way to stop the spread of the virus.
Mr. Jalloh went to say that despite the overall eventual benefits of the Stay-At-Home , “We expect a rise in transmission during the Stay-At-Home and so the Police Training School at Hastings has been converted to a holding center.The Chinese will establish a temporary Isolation and treatment center at the China Friendship Jui hospital until they complete a permernent structure in the next few months.
As I am talking to you, a plane from China is on the way, bringing 59 doctors. Cuba is also sending us 165 doctors and nurses “.
According to the Deputy Spokesman, the incidence of unpicked dead bodies around the city has ended. He explained that the reasons for bodies not being picked up earlier: Culture test required to determine if death is Ebola related takes 12 hours. The lab makes results available twice a day 8am and 4pm, so if a culture is taken at 3pm, the results are not ready until 4pm the following day. The lab is shut down at 5pm daily. There was also the problem of the poor addressing system which left teams searching for three or more hours for bodies . To combat the problem, Mr. Jalloh disclosed that the number of burial teams have been increased and minivans doing the pickup of bodies increased to 30. A total of 16 Ambulances bought by the government from Dubai and 5 Ambulances on loan from the United States Embassy are in use. 30 Minivans were bought and put in use for burial. The EOC has also trained 26 okada drivers to take culture tests and swabs and run with them to laboratories .
About the death of Dr. Olivette Buck, the fourth Sierra Leonean doctor to succumb to Ebola, Mr. Jalloh explained that the Sierra Leone Government was very willing to send the ailing medico to Germany for treatment , but the Germans had to give the nod first and they later turned down the government’s request and promised to provide in Sierra Leone the same treatment Dr. Buck would have received in Hamburg.The government had contacted and had received clearance from a hospital in Hamburg, Germany for Dr. Buck to be treated. But WHO being the authorizer advise against that, telling the German govt and SL that the Ebola affected Doctor can be treated here in Sierra Leone and that she can and will receive all the drugs available overseas including trial drugs. WHO did not approve the request to fly her out and she died as we continued to negotiate with WHO to agree to convey approval to the German government.
Mr. Jalloh said that, according to the Finance Minister, a total of 316 million. USD have been donated by the international community, all of which is still at the WHO headquarters in Guinea yet to be disaggregated amongst Liberia, Guniea and SL.. “So all the talk about us receiving money is not true. We are not in receipt of a dime as yet, ” he added.
Mr. Jalloh is confident that Sierra Leone will eventually win the war against Ebola.