May 29, 2018 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
President of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES) has urged government to declare May 25 – the day the country recorded the first case of Ebola in 2014 – as a national holiday.
Yusuf Kabba told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that May 25 of each year should be marked as a very important day by the people of Sierra Leone to commemorate and reflect on the deadly Ebola Virus that hit the country in 2014.
“We decided to commemorate this day because we note that it makes a lot of sense to sympathise with the bereaved families of the fallen heroes, especially orphans,” he said, adding that this year’s commemoration was dedicated to families of healthcare workers who lost their lives during the outbreak.
He said the commemoration of the day should not be limited to EVD survivors and that it should be an event of national interest as it would create awareness about the disease and how it affected them as survivors.
“Where five-to-six thousand people died, it is nice for people to think about this day. Let Sierra Leoneans remember how Ebola tortured the country’s economy, education, and tourism amongst others,” Kabba said.
The SLAES president said this year’s commemoration also helped highlight government’s preparedness to put in place swift response in the wake of another outbreak, adding that there was need for them to talk about issues of heightened surveillance and hand washing.
Kabba said their members still face health challenges such as back ache, visual and fertility problems, among host of other illnesses.
He added that the commemoration was a perfect day to highlight their tribulations and trials during the outbreak.
“Our members have complained about fertility problem, some cannot discharge when having sexual intercourse and always every few months we receive new case of complications,” he said.
He called on President Julius Maada Bio to declare the day a public holiday and to provide them with free healthcare.
“We have lost about 14 people who were not able to survive health problems due to complications,” he said, adding that they have planned to visit the president to talk about their challenges and what they government should do for them as an association.