DECEMBER 16, 2014 By M.B. Jalloh in Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone Embassy’s in Tehran in the Islamic Republic of Iran under the leadership of His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Muhammed B. Fofana is leaving no stone unturned in assisting the government in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Ambassador Fofana has met with and solicited assistance from officials of some friendly countries and a good number of them have responded positively by providing medical supplies and financial assistance to combat the disease.
On the invitation of Hon. Mohammed Nasim, the Bangladeshi Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Ambassador Fofana recently paid an official visit to Bangladesh – one of his vast and populated eight countries of accreditation comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey.
During that visit, the Minister of Health informed the ambassador that his government had donated some medicines and medical equipment worth about US$150,000 through the Directorate General of the Military Health Services of Bangladesh in Dhaka to be delivered by the Bangladeshi Peace Keeping Operations based in Monrovia, Republic of Liberia to the concerned authorities in Sierra Leone to help in the fight against the deadly scourge. They promised to send the same gesture very soon.
In a related development, the minister, through the ambassador, also extended an official invitation to his Sierra Leonean counterpart, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, to visit Bangladesh in the shortest convenient time so as to discuss ways of mutual meaningful cooperation between the two countries – in the fields of healthcare, medical science and training of health officials.
They also discussed possibilities of extending the same cooperation to the private sector operating in the areas of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, among others, for the purpose of strengthening the healthcare delivery system during the post-Ebola era. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two ministers has already been prepared and a copy sent to Freetown for review and approval by Sierra Leone’s Health Minister, to be signed during the expected visit.
The envoy also paid a similar visit to Beirut, Lebanon wherein he met with the Lebanese community formerly residing in Sierra Leone, who expressed their deepest sorrow over the outbreak of the deadly virus and promised to extend their assistance through their union and families back home.
Before then, the government of the Republic of Turkey at the initial break of the deadly virus had donated the sum US$50,000 to the Sierra Leone government through its mission in New York.
Modest contributions of US$5,000 and US$10,000 had been donated by Mr. Mustafa Sozer-Ozel, Sierra Leone’s Honorary Consul General in Ankara, Turkey and Mr. Nasir Husain Schon, Sierra Leone’s Honorary Consul General in Karachi, Pakistan respectively.
The International Red Crescent of Iran has also donated the sum of US$50,000 through its regional office to be utilized by its two hospitals at McCauley Street and Lumley respectively in Freetown for the sole purpose of fighting the Ebola virus. The Iranian government, sources say, is working on a bigger package for the eradication of Ebola; as they consider Sierra Leone as a true and reliable friend.
The government of Pakistan, with the help of its mission in Tehran, has already approved the visit of Ambassador Fofana to meet and discuss with the Prime Minister and Minister of Health in soliciting medical assistance when the demonstrations in Pakistan impeded that crucial visit.
Speaking in a brief interview with this writer in his Tehran office over the weekend, the diplomat said he was very grateful to the friendly countries for their virtuous assistance to the government and people of Sierra Leone during this period of unprecedented epidemic that is wreaking havoc in his country.
He praised the efforts of all partners that have played a pivotal role in the fight against the Ebola disease. He thanked Iran, Bangladesh, Turkey and all the countries under his accreditation who heard the country’s appeal and supported it immediately in the fight against the disease. He said Sierra Leoneans are extremely grateful for the donations, which he said have come at a critical time when the country and its people are grappling with a disease which is ravaging the lives of thousands.
He indicated that much of the donation will help the government respond to regular health care and not only Ebola.
Ambassador Fofana also paid a special tribute to Sierra Leone’s president, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, for his continuous and vigorous efforts to contain the virus. He also paid another tribute to the patriotic and courageous efforts of the fallen medical heroes and frontline health workers in trying to save the lives of citizens.