By State House Communications Unit
As a way of engendering effective coordination in the fight to end Ebola, President Ernest Bai Koroma Thursday 11th December launched the ‘Ebola Resistant Behaviour Change Initiative’ at the Bank Complex, Kingtom, Freetown. The ceremony which was organized by the Office of the First Lady Madam Sia Nyama Koroma in collaboration with Plan International aimed at strengthening the engagement with traditional and cultural societies to help break the chain of transmission of the disease.
President Koroma expressed serious concerns over spiking rates of new infections in the Western Area, and added that having witnessed the glaring consequences of the outbreak, he emphasized the need to jolt our collective efforts into action. He recalled that the country was making tremendous progress in governance, strengthening democracy as well as engrossed in the development and transformation of the country when Ebola struck. This, he said, is what government and its development partners should be preoccupied with not expending energies to contain an epidemic.
The president lamented the fact that despite all the sensitization about the dangers of Ebola, a good number of Sierra Leoneans had not been able to translate the messages into action, and stressed the importance to speedily put aside all traditional practices to break the chain of transmission. Acknowledging the role of traditional and cultural societies, President Koroma urged the various heads of societies to use their network to chase Ebola out of their communities. He accentuated the need to make sacrifices and desist from traditional practices that accelerate the rate of infection with the aim of taking ownership and responsibility to end Ebola as soon as possible.
President Koroma also issued a stern warning against those individuals who are using the Ebola crisis at the expense and detriment of the lives of the people. “This money will not benefit you, it will not benefit your family and it is blood money,” he lashed, and urged cultural and traditional leaders to continue to engage their various constituents and provide the needed leadership and discipline to eradicate Ebola.
First Lady Madam Sia Nyama Koroma appealed to every Sierra Leonean to take ownership of the fight and target cultural behaviours of touching and burying of corpses to eradicate Ebola. She said they will be training champions among each group and create a pattern to target every fascet of society, adding that the training will also include preparing a generation of Sierra Leoneans that will be equipped to address any future outbreak.
The Chief Executive Officer of the National Ebola Response Centre Major (Rtd.) Alfred Paolo Conteh stated that the situation has not been encouraging particularly in the Western Area in which he underscored the need for a change of attitude to help halt the spreading virus. Major Paolo Conteh informed that tough actions will be taken against any person going contrary to laid down precautions and regulations. He furthered that this year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations will not be observed in the usual way. “It will take a new twist with tough actions,” he vowed.