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THE DEADLY EBOLA THREAT AND PRESIDENT’S CONCERN

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THE DEADLY EBOLA THREAT AND PRESIDENT’S CONCERN

When the deadly Ebola virus outbreak occurred in West Africa last month, the Government of His Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai koroma made frantic efforts to ensure that Sierra Leone is protected from the spread of the deadly Ebola virus which continues to affect some West African countries, including neighboring Guinea and Liberia.

Since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, rumours have been doing the rounds that two persons have died in some part of Sierra Leone as a result of the Ebola virus. But recently addressing the Sierra Leonean Community in Brussels, President Koroma said the deaths were not related to the deadly virus as confirmed by a team medical experts which was dispatched to communities very close to the border with Guinea.

 

To demonstrate that the president cares for the health of every Sierra Leonean, his Government through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has set up a multi stakeholder team comprising health experts, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, to lead efforts aimed at containing the disease from crossing over into Sierra Leone from neighboring Guinea, where the disease toll is reportedly more than 80.

PRESIDENT KOROMA WITH HUMAN FACE

As the deadly virus continues to spread in the sub-region, some countries have decided to close their borders with Guinea, including Senegal. But according to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, when addressing the Sierra Leonean community in Brussels, he is not at the moment considering the option of closing the country’s boundaries with neighboring Guinea.

 

“We are very much concerned that the spread of Ebola in Guinea, some medical personnel from United State of America are already in the country to help us conduct medical test for the virus”, the President disclosed.

 

He further disclosed that the team tested the relatives of the two persons whose relatives were claimed to have died from Ebola attack but it was confirmed that they did not died as a result of the dreadful disease.

 

According to President Koroma, “We will ensure that proper mechanisms are put in place at the border crossing point at Gbalamuya and other areas so that people can be seriously screened __________ entering into Sierra Leone. The President disclosed that the Minister of Health and Sanitation is briefing him on a daily basis on issues relating to epidemic.

 

The European Union announced this week that it will provide €500,000 to help contain the spread of the deadly virus in Guinea and neighboring countries in the sub-region, and has sent a team of health experts to Guinea to assess the situation and liaise with local authorities.

 

According to the Chief medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Brima Kargbo, there is a zero case of Ebola infection in the country.” Addressing the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Health very recently, the CMO told the committee that he Ministry that set up a response team headed by Minister of health and Sanitation, Ms. Miata Kargbo. He added that the team has sub-committees which “___________ suspected cases of the deadly virus, conduct surveillance and spearhead laboratory tests as well as embark on preventative measures.”

 

Besides, the Health Ministry has created means of raising awareness among communities while it has alerted District Medical Officers in border areas to be proactive in their response to any suspected case of Ebola.

 

Dr. Brima Kargbo said the Health Ministry has developed Ebola messages that are being disseminated to health worker and community members, and that meetings are being held with religious group, commercial bike riders and motor drivers in abode to disseminate preventive health messages to the public, especially commuters.

 

He warned citizen to minimize their travels to affected areas in Guinea and Liberia.

 

Ebola outbreaks have a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus is fast spreading and can kill an infected person in a matter of days or weeks.

 

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola.

 

It is crystal clear that efforts by the Government of Sierra Leone to contain the deadly Ebola virus from spreading over into Sierra Leone from neighboring Guinea and Liberia are a manifestation of President Koroma’s determination to improve the health section for better health service delivery and to respond proactively to a situation like this.

 

The President also demonstrated in Brussels, when addressing the Sierra Leonean community, that the interest of the people and the country stands above all else. The concerns he raised over the deadly virus, his appeal to health experts from the United States of America to intervene and the daily briefings he gets from the Minister of Health and Sanitation on epidemic are all indications of his Government’s determination to contain the Ebola virus from spreading into Sierra Leone.

 

This is not the first time President Koroma’s Government has stepped up efforts in the Health Sector, its introduction of the Free Healthcare initiative on 27th April, 2010, for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five. Prior to the introduction of the initiative, Sierra Leone had the highest mortality rate in the world as had been always indicated by the UN Human Development Index.

 

President Koroma inherited the ugly situation from his predecessors who made little efforts to help minimize the high mortality rate in the country.

 

It was against the backdrop high mortality rate in the country that the President in his wisdom saw it expedient to introduce the free healthcare initiative, to help poor Sierra Leoneans who are financially incapacitated to settle the medical bills for their pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years.

 

The rapid approach towards containing the deadly Ebola virus from crossing over into Sierra Leone can certainly manifest the seriousness of the Koroma administration about improving the health sector.

The 2017 Grand Coalition

By Foday Daboh

“Forming a grand coalition is not far fetched, because Sir Milton Margai did exactly that in the late 1950s.”

“(and hopefully the ceremony is facilitated by Maada Bio, the then Chairman of the SLPP).”

Last week as a friend of mine and I watched the video of Pa Kabba’s funeral at the National Stadium, we discussed the powerful imagery of His Excellency EBK presiding over the whole event, the crowd uplifted by Jimmy B and the artist’s youthful and superb performance, and the crowd’s rapt attention as they absorbed the grand finale of EBK’s powerful and honorable tribute to his predecessor.   Is this a sign that our hard won democracy is consolidating incrementally?

Jessy Jackson used to say “Keep Hope Alive”, and that hope gave us Obama. So as young men we discussed an event in March 2018 where EBK passes the baton to KKY, as Kabba passed it on to him (and hopefully the ceremony is facilitated by Maada Bio, the then Chairman of the SLPP).  More importantly, we hope for a Grand Coalition of reform-minded champions from various parties plus the youth, unified under a KKY leadership for 2017.

Forming a grand coalition is not far fetched, because Sir Milton Margai did exactly that in the late 1950s.  In order to get a deal for our independence, Sir Milton Margai teamed up with Dr. Karefa-Smart and the Northern chiefs (Bai Farma Tas, Yumkella, Pa Alikali Modu, Alimamy Dura, Bai Koblo, and Kandeh Kolleh; plus Southern and Eastern chiefs and leaders such as Madam Ella Koblo-Gulama, Taplima-Gobeh, Jaiya-Kai Kai.  Then he forged a strategic Alliance with other political parties such as that led by H.E. Siaka Stevens and his brother H.E. Albert Margai; then he forged a partnership with very prominent Western Area  leaders such Nelson Williams, Rogers Wright, Berthan Macauley, Solomon- Pratt, Dr. Easmon, Beoku-Betts, Dove-Edwin, Brown-Mack, Banja Tejan-Sie, M.S. Moustapha  and Kandeh Bureh.  

Sir Milton, with humility, patience and tolerance created his grand coalition, with unity of purpose and one vision for an independent Salone.

KKY noted that Kabba “chose” to integrate society. His Excellency EBK stated in the eulogy that Pa Kabba, with great tolerance and skill brought everyone together at another crucial time in our country’s history to secure peace and declared “De War Dondon” in 2002. We also observed that though a few pundits had attacked KKY for stating the true facts in his written tribute, he was exonerated at the Stadium. Pa Berewa, in his tribute exonerated KKY when he said “if President Kabba was not a democrat, I would have been president today”. This confirmed KKY’s statement that Kabba chose not to subvert democracy in 2007. Jimmy-B asked why did we not hear all these achievements and praise all this time when President Kabba was alive? This confirmed KKY’s assertion that by design or omission many did not talk about the Kabba legacy for almost a decade.

Our movement is built around the dream of a grand coalition of reformers and technocrats to take over in 2018. We know that every party has progressives.  We also know that there are many people who may hate politics, but want a greater and a better Salone (that is built on current successes while avoiding the failures) We also know that demographic changes and urbanization have led to mass movements of our people. Hence, to win in 2017 we want to create coalitions and strategic alliances across the East, West, North and South.  In the short time to 2017, the goal is not to start a new party, it is to persuade people not to worry about tribe, party color or mud-slinging and witch-hunts, but rather to focus on the long-term prosperity of our country. Later they can follow the person with the better vision for the country.  They can follow the UNIFIER who says “there are no green or red Sierra Leoneans”.

We expect that KKY will answer the call to mobilize and galvanize such a grand coalition? He has the pedigree, open-mindedness and the skills to forge the required alliances. We know that through marriage, he is connected to 7 Chieftaincy houses across the four regions. For example, his maternal grandfather and namesake, was Chief Kandeh Kolleh of Tambakah Chiefdom, Bombali District. We know that he has built relationships in all regions because of his schooling, marriage and his development work.  Leh we dae go normor……..

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