OCTOBER 10, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
For almost five months now since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the country, a good number of organizations have embarked on sensitization campaigns at various levels to sensitize Sierra Leoneans about the deadly epidemic. But it seems that a good number of people are still finding it difficult to understand some of the strategies being put in place by the government and its partners in the fight against the deadly disease.
It is against this backdrop that the Open Government Initiative (OGI) will today embark on a citizens’ feedback survey across the country, covering border towns and villages, to get firsthand information about people’s perceptions on the epidemic.
The objective of the survey, according to OGI Director Madam Khadija Sesay, is to create a well-informed citizenry in the current socio-economic development as well as monitoring the management mechanism of the Ebola virus disease.
She said a twenty-six-man delegation, comprising civil society, media, religious leaders and social workers, will visit communities to ask relevant questions as to their understanding of operations of relevant stakeholders, including the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, among others, in the fight against Ebola.
She added that the tour would also create an opportunity for religious leaders to network with their peers in disseminating standardized and accurate information on the Ebola crisis, and to promote good governance through the 644 toll free line as a means of engaging the citizens and creating an enabling environment for them to express their concerns to the government of Sierra Leone on performance standards in their communities.
“As a means of contributing to opening the channels of communication and providing regular updates to members of the public, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) has consented to host radio and television programmes on this survey. This will continue to track the fact-finding mission throughout the process,” disclosed Ms. Sesay.
“During the three-day house to house campaign, my organization launched a free toll line to redirect burning questions that needed the attention of the EOC or the burial teams because we noticed that most Sierra Leoneans are caught between a clear understanding of the disease and how to deal with its impact and spread in our communities, and the free toll line was effectively utilized during the three day lockdown.”
She added that OGI is partnering with International Business Machine and New Jersey Institute of Technology to design health messages that will be broadcast over radio stations.