DECEMBER 18, 2014
The African Union has aided Sierra Leone with 101 Ethiopian medical personnel in the fight against Ebola. The medical team comprises doctors, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, public health officers, and information and communication specialists.
Welcoming the medical team on arrival at the Freetown International Airport, Deputy Health and Sanitation Minister I, Foday Sawi Lahai, on behalf of the ministry, the government and people of Sierra Leone, expressed gratitude and appreciation over the visit, describing the medical team as brave men and women of Africa.
He said their coming marks a very important milestone in the war against Ebola in Sierra Leone and lauded them for their heroic efforts in complementing and supporting ongoing efforts of the affected countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Mr. Sawi said the Ebola virus met Sierra Leone unprepared to react robustly as the health services system was not quite in place to effectively and efficiently respond to the outbreak.
He said with support from development partners, structures have been put in place to eradicate the disease, but the biggest problem facing Sierra Leone is human resource capacity, adding that their coming is timely and significant.
The team leader, African Union Support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), Dr. Ssekitoleko Richard, said they are again witnessing the commitment of the African Union contingent to participate in the response to end the deadly Ebola virus disease scourge in West Africa, especially Sierra Leone.
He noted that two months ago the Chairperson of the AU was in Sierra Leone and pledged the union’s support to deploy more volunteers from member states in December. The first group of 104 AU volunteers, he said, came from Nigeria as part of a total of 250 volunteers deployed to West Africa.
Dr. Richard commended the medical team for the bold step to participate in eradicating Ebola from Sierra Leone, and thanked the government of Sierra Leone for facilitating the AU contingent’s deployment and the excellent reception offered to the team.
He reiterated that they are here to fill existing human resource gaps identified by the government, noting that they have already deployed volunteers in the five districts in the Northern Region and are now waiting deployment for the Ethiopian medics from government.
In her remarks, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Chairperson for the occasion, Dr. Sarian Kamara, described the team as heroes and heroines and foot soldiers to kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone.