…First Lady Sia Koroma
OCTOBER 2, 2014 By Josephine A. Seppeh
While launching the Beijing +20 Campaign at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown yesterday, First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma noted that though the country had once experienced civil war, there is nothing as devastating as the Ebola epidemic, which has caused the death of more than 500 people and put hold to all development strides.
She stated that historical evidence reinforces the vulnerability of women and girls to the Ebola virus and that the Free Healthcare initiative – to help pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five years – is being seriously undermined by the rampaging Ebola outbreak.
“Women are afraid to visit health centers because they are misinformed about the way the patients are being treated,” she said. “They are afraid to take their children to health centers for fear that they might contract the Ebola viral disease.”
The United Nations Women representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Mary Okumu, noted that women are care-givers, custodians of environmental culture and households; therefore are more vulnerable in contracting the disease.
According to Dr. Okumu, the gender strategy which was launched together with the Beijing +20 Campaign would help direct their work with survivors of the Ebola disease because most are rejected and isolated by their family members as well as communities in which they live.
“There is an urgent need for everybody to put hands on deck and help to eradicating the disease,” she appealed.
Minority Leader of Parliament, Hon. Dr. Bernadette Lahai, said the Ebola outbreak is seriously affecting the country’s Gross Domestic Product as well as the agricultural sector, and urged that “we put all segregations aside and fight the disease. The fight against Ebola involves decision making and needs people to stand up in this fight.”
Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mustapha Bai Attila, said as a country, “We hope to overcome the disease one day, and all this time we never knew that we had a common enemy that we all need to fight as a nation.”
He said many people need immediate assistance and that his ministry is work assiduously to raise funds to help support victims of the outbreak.