March 18, 2020
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) has noted in its report titled ‘Maintaining Our Zero Government Preparedness for Coronavirus (CoVID-19)’ that there is an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment in hospitals across the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of IGR, Andrew Lavalie said they recently undertook a survey in three districts, including Western Area Urban, Western Area Rural and the North-Western.
The survey,which was geared towards assessing the status of the CoVID-19 preparedness in the country captured the interviews of 500 experts in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), doctors, nurses and citizens.
“While our interviews with MOHS staff and frontline health care providers noted that considerable steps have been taken towards maintaining Zero cases, it also suggested the mobilization of actors that were central to the Ebola Response as well as some community sensitization. The response can be more effective if the Government of Sierra Leone immediately ensures that timely information is disseminated to healthcare workers and citizens,’’ he said.
He also added that there was a need to mobilise multi stakeholders groups such as traditional leaders, parliamentarians, religious leaders, herbalists, civil society organisations and the media for a robust preparedness.
Lavalie said there was an acute shortage of medical equipment in hospital together with PPEs, thus adding that adequate training of healthcare workers on how to manage the CoVID 19 virus in case it struck the country was necessary.
He added that the Ebola Operations Centre (EOC) and partners should make deliberate efforts to operationalise directives such as quarantining, as well as providing the necessary infrastructure to ensure humane quarantine conditions are guarantee and the readiness of hospitals to receive and treat cases appropriately.
“The general perception that there has been little information officially disseminated about the country’s readiness to address the virus or citizen behaviour, our survey showed that nearly all recipients (95%) had heard of the coronavirus, with at least 90.3% able to correctly identify at least one symptom without being prompted,” he said.
Lavalie added that the report showed that about 90% of respondents believed that covering their nose with a sleeve or tissue, regular handwashing with soap, avoiding handshakes and close contacts with others were potential ways to protect oneself.
“Right now, people are trying to bolster their response to the pandemic. So we believe as an institute, there is need for us to support government and the people of Sierra Leone with information that is useful to strengthen our response to the epidemic. This survey is not a score card, but rather a diagnostic to show what is going right and what needs to be done,’’ he added.
On Monday President Julius Maada Bio directed with immediate effect for a ban on overseas travel for all government officials, a restriction on public gathering of over 100 people.
The public notice also advised the general public to restraint itself from overseas travels until further notice as a measure avoid the deadly virus that has killed thousands of people across the globe.
Since the presidential directives, several others have started taking preventive measures with Fourah Bay College (FBC) putting immediate halt to its examination until April 2020.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone Police has in a press statement issued last night cancelled all clearances it has issued to individuals or groups.