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A three-day shutdown whose Ebola surveillance officers, monitors, contract tracers and other authorities concerned did not show up in certain communities where they were expected on the first day is only a one-day failure on their part; if they failed to show up in those same communities for the three days running is a fiasco, arrant negligence of a serious national duty and an underserved disappointment to those communities.
And that was just the disappointment faced by most of us that have residence in the hill-top communities overlooking downtown Freetown city. For three days on end of the nationwide shutdown, we waited in vain day in and day out without trace of those people; up to the time of preparing this article on Monday, this writer still does not know how those authorities looked like. But thanks to the magic of radio and television.
It gored us even further when some of the so-called surveillance and contract tracers were reportedly found drinking beer and making merry in some homes with careless abandon while the people waited for them; they reportedly socialized in those homes for most of the time of the shutdown and for sure only to return and submit false report on their activities. Some of them may have even taken home the soaps that were meant for those homes that were not visited.
The government and people of Sierra Leone had instinctively sacrificed the three days of a national lockdown in order to take the Ebola war campaign to a stronger and much more robust level; they had at the same time turned to God almighty the way and manner all living things return home at the end of day. God remains our last hope for the eradication of the murderous and outrageous Ebola pestilence. In fact, the spiritual aspect of the shutdown was the best thing that happened to some of us in place of the presence of those defaulting Ebola team members at our door steps. We contented ourselves with moments of praise and worship and prayers in our homes.
The hill-top communities have more often than not remained a backwater when it comes to important health care delivery services such as vaccinations for children and now the Ebola, like in all other social service opportunities. People usually recruited to perform those duties are not residents of those communities and therefore find it an uphill task to visit the homes. They normally stop at the periphery of the communities, return to their homes and prepare false reports and claim their remunerations for doing sweet nothing.
The failure of the Ebola surveillance teams, contract tracers, monitors and others to visit those communities and elsewhere came as no surprise anyway. A week before the lockup it was discovered and alerted that the original list of those that were recruited to fit the campaign task was cancelled in favour of politicians’ own choice of people most of whom were a political party’s youth including okada riders, cronies and relatives, educated or not. Little wonder some of the homes visited had very low opinion about most of the team members. It was another opportunity for job for the boys.
The fact that those communities were not visited inevitably undermined the cause of the exercise and weakened in some measures the efficiency of the campaign. There may be a good number of Ebola cases in those communities that were not accounted for at the end of the campaign; and whose presence in those homes and communities continues to endanger the lives of the people.
By and large the three-day sit-at-home exercise inevitably helped to capture the imagination and conscience of the people about the dreadful Ebola virus disease to a very large extent; it drew the nation closer to God. The attendant impact of radio/television programs, dramas, musical features, topical discussions, interviews, sermons and prayers designed to carry the Ebola messages was remarkable. I personally have yet to witness another measure as robust to fight the disease as the week-end exercise. Anyone still denying the reality of Ebola after all this should as well be relegated to the thought of limbo.
Having come this far it remains to lament the manner in which Ebola and non-Ebola cases are being handled by those concerned; in fact there seems to be only a thin line drawn between the two. The most unfortunate thing to happen to anyone today in this country is to get sick and be taken to hospital. Be it Ebola, typhoid, malaria, dysentery, headache, HIV/Aids, one is instantly considered as an Ebola patient. It is like being condemned to death as no one’s relatives are likely to see the person any more. The bodies of families’ love ones that die whether by Ebola or not are never turned over to the relatives for a fitting burial but instead, they are virtually dumped in a primitive form of burial without ceremony.
People are dying today at the treatment centers not necessarily from Ebola but instead, from the psychological torture they are subjected to. In most cases relatives no longer locate their love ones once they are taken to those treatment centers.
Hunger suffered by patients at the treatment centers and quarantined homes is also killing the people. They go for days on end without food as promised by the authorities concerned. A family friend doing his dissertation was recently taken to Connaught hospital suffering from typhoid. He was tested negative for Ebola and admitted for further treatment. Still not Ebola positive he was among the first batch of patients taken for admission at the newly established receiving centers at Jui. His personal effect including foodstuff, mobile phone, provisions, wearing, etc. were taken from him, transported to Jui in his briefs. He died subsequently and buried even before his family members could know his whereabouts. The dead is no longer treated with the traditional and cultural dignity; but instead as a cardboard.
These experiences are some of the enervating forces, the grinding disabilities and despair that are running Ebola and non-Ebola patients underground; they are creating a hopeless situation of bitterness and remorse among the people and a lack of trust in the people handling the Ebola disaster. The earlier the necessary changes are put in place the better.

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