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As efforts to eradicate Ebola gain momentum…

More ambulances & hearses delivered

OCTOBER 22, 2014 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The World Food Programme (WFP), as part of World Bank funding to the government of Sierra Leone, yesterday handed over 20 ambulances and 10 hearses to scale up the government’s logistical capacity in response to the Ebola virus disease which has claimed the lives of 997 Sierra Leoneans, according to official figures.

Speaking during the handing over ceremony at the Cockerill Army headquarters in Freetown, the Emergency Coordinator of WFP, John Crisce, said the delivery constitutes the first set of 74 vehicles worth four million United States dollars to be airlifted into the country by WFP from Dubai.

He disclosed that following a memorandum of understanding between the government of Sierra Leone and WFP, a US$9.5 million grant, part of a US$28 million World Bank funded Ebola virus disease response to the country, was allocated to WFP for the delivery of food and non-food items to Ebola victims.

He said the agency had already delivered 4,000 metric tons of food to more than 3,000 Ebola affected people, including patients in treatment centres, survivors, and quarantined communities.

He continued that the partnership between the World Bank and the government Sierra Leone on the one hand, and the United Nations agencies on the other, is part of concerted efforts to stem the rapid spread of the disease in the country, and that they seek to scale up the country’s logistical and operational capacity and mitigate the economic impact of the outbreak on affected communities.

“We have been hearing alarming stories of Ebola patients going helpless for days in their homes and villages due to logistics constraint. I hope these ambulances will contribute to alleviating the suffering of many families and curbing down the spread of the Ebola virus in the country,” said the WFP Emergency Coordinator.

In his statement, acting World Bank Country Manager, Yusuf Bob Foday, said health workers are in the frontline of the battle against the outbreak, which appears to be having the upper hand, but they cannot allow the morale of brave doctors, nurses and volunteers to be broken because of lack of logistics.

He said the World Bank is willing to provide health workers with the required tools to carry out their job, to continue to save the lives of Sierra Leoneans and to win the battle against the Ebola epidemic in the country. He hoped the ambulances and hearses would help improve mobility and make a telling difference between life and death.

Speaking earlier, the newly appointed head of the National Ebola Response Committee, Retired Major Alfred Palo Conteh said the president appointed him to head the integrated response to curb the virus because of lawlessness and lack of sanity. He disclosed that on 19th October alone, the burial time in the Western Area buried 43 corpses, “an indication that the virus is way ahead of us, as the country fights to catch up with and eradicate it from the county”.

In what seems like a swipe at those previously in charge of the Ebola response, Mr. Conteh said ambulances were parked at Youyi when they should have been on the field. He thus promised to ensure that all ambulances are on the field doing the work they were bought to do.

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