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President Koroma’s envoy makes strong case for Salone at Saudi Ebola Confab

NOVEMBER 10, 2014   By M.B. Jalloh in Saudi Arabia

Sierra Leone’s envoy to Saudi Arabia has on Wednesday, 5th November told a joint resource mobilization conference for controlling Ebola about the measures his government has undertaken to eradicate the epidemic.

Speaking at the conference organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) at the former’s headquarters in Jeddah, Ambassador Alhaji Mohamed Sillah Kargbo disclosed that the Sierra Leone Government had spent about 30,000,000.00 US dollars (thirty million U.S dollars) of its own resources since the outbreak of the disease in May this year.

He also disclosed the international assistance his government had received from its partners, including the British, the Chinese, MSF, WHO, the Red Cross, among others, and appealed for more support in the fight against the scourge. He said the conference was timely and expressed its huge importance.

“In fact it is so huge that the government of Sierra Leone had arranged for a high powered delegation comprising the Minister of Information and Communications, the Minister of Health and Sanitation and the Chief Medical Officer to attend,” he told the conference. This, he added, was not possible due to the fact that many airlines flying to Sierra Leone had suspended their services and the earliest the delegation could have arrived in Saudi Arabia would have been at a time the conference would have been over. “This is why I am standing here as the Ambassador to deliver a statement on behalf of my government,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Jeddah conference announced an urgent financial assistance to countries affected by the Ebola epidemic. Many of the organizations, institutions and individuals who attended the conference expressed their readiness to provide financial and technical assistance to advance the health systems and structures in the affected countries. They also made pledges amounting to millions of U.S dollars and promised to send equipment and supplies, material resources, as well as trained heath workers and associated work force.

The conference reiterated the need for effective, coordinated and speedy response to the epidemic. It also noted the necessity of community mobilization, creating public awareness and educating people in dealing with situations resulting from the epidemic.

The conference, which was chaired by the Deputy Saudi Health Minister, Dr. Mansour Nasser Alhowasi, was attended by representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Health and some high-level delegations from OIC member states.

Representatives of the Office of the US President’s Special Envoy to the OIC and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) were also in attendance.

Sierra Leone’s Ambassador was also accompanied by the Head of Chancery, Umaru Dura and the Press Attaché. A Sierra Leonean Professor from the University of San Francisco, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Dr. Ahmed S. Bangura – who is a member of a U.S.-based Foundation for West Africa, also formed part of the Sierra Leone delegation.

In their welcoming remarks at the opening session of the conference, the Secretary General of the OIC, Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani and the President of IDB, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, conveyed their sympathy with and support for the peoples and governments of the affected countries and recounted the efforts exerted by their organizations since the start of the outbreak earlier this year.

The participants at the conference appreciated the OIC and IDB for their timely initiative and expressed hope that the assistance package put together would meaningfully and effectively contribute to the international effort to contain the Ebola virus disease.