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TI scolds gov’t for ‘slow response to Ebola’

SEPTEMBER 8, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi

Transparency International Sierra Leone Executive Director, Lavina Banduah

Transparency International Sierra Leone Executive Director, Lavina Banduah

Transparency International Sierra Leone has charged the government for what it referred to as its “slow pace response” in containing the Ebola viral disease and in seeking the welfare of health workers, especially those at the frontline of the Ebola fight.

The organisation accused the government of being slow in dealing with the disease, noting that “it is imperative on government to give account of all finances received from private and international donors in the fight against Ebola”.

Executive Director of Transparency International Sierra Leone, Lavina Banduah, while contributing to a position statement by members of the Natural Resources Governance and Economic Justice Network (NaRGEJ) on the Ebola crisis in the country, said government should be held accountable “for its slow response in establishing treatment centres at regional and district levels”, as well as for the “seeming lack of coordination” on issues relating to Ebola, payment of health workers, provision of personal protective equipments (PPEs) and other essential logistics, among others.

“We are concerned that adequate care is not being provided for people in quarantined areas,” claimed Madam Banduah. “There should be effective management of resources being generated for the fight against Ebola, as well as provision of detailed information on the materials being provided in all health facilities across the country. All these pertinent issues should be handled appropriately by the government so that humanitarian organizations will be able to give the appropriate support in the fight.”

It could be recalled that health workers recently embarked on a strike action at the state-run Ebola treatment centre at the Connaught Hospital over pay and poor working conditions. The workers decided to down their tools claiming unpaid allowances and the lack of adequate basic gears to carry out their responsibilities.

Tens of health workers have already died of Ebola at the Kenema treatment center and other clinics after contracting the highly contagious virus from patients they are fighting to save.

However, the Head of Communications at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Sidie Yahya Tunis, said government has increased the weekly allowances for health workers in order to carry out their responsibilities.

He said the government has allocated Le500,000 each as weekly allowance for health workers at the epicenters and that there are those who will receive Le400,000 based on their responsibilities, noting that the Kailahun treatment center is fully operational while those in Kenema Bo, the Northern Region and the Western Area are under construction.

“President Koroma is very much concerned about the welfare of health workers. We are constructing these centers to meet WHO standards with five hundred bed facilities,” said Mr. Tunis. “We have got enough PPEs, in fact the latest were brought in by UNICEF some few days ago. We are doing our best to address the Ebola situation in the country and that is why we are calling on everybody to help us with this fight.”