AUGUST 23,2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi from Bo
Former presidential candidate for the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in the 2012 presidential election has urged government and the international community to provide quality personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers who are in the vanguard of combating the Ebola virus, adding that health workers should not be marginalized as they provide essential services to the nation.
Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio made the appeal while donating 300 bags of rice to families of Ebola victims and survivors across the country at the Bo District Council hall.
Bio said health workers should be treated with dignity and urged government to provide them the necessary equipment to carry out their work without any hindrance, as it is depressing to note that a good number of Ebola victims are health workers.
“We must give them the support needed because they are the commanders in this battle. It is a war, but difficult to fight; health personnel have taken up the responsibility to help our people and this is the time they needed us the most. I am informed that some husbands have even abandoned their wives because they are nurses; please they are working for us and in the interest of the nation,” he said.
Bio further noted that though he is not a medical professional, he wrote a letter to President Ernest Bai Koroma immediately the Ebola virus was confirmed to have crossed into the country from neighbouring Guinea, urging him to put mechanisms in place to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the country.
“I am not happy to be here today, but it is good for me to come and meet with my people, particularly when they needed me the most. I want to extend my sympathy to the families who lost their loved ones as a result of Ebola,” he said, adding: “When I came back home some few weeks ago, I went to the president and told him that we should work together and fight Ebola, and that is why I am here. I wanted to go to Kailahun, Kenema, Kono, Makeni, Kabala, among others, to engage my people and to tell them the dangers of Ebola, but because of the current situation [state of emergency], I have decided to come to Bo.
“My message may not be different from others, but one of the gaps which is yet to be addressed is the issue of food for Ebola victims. The 300 bags of rice I am donating today for victims in Kenema, Kailahun, Bo and other parts of the country will not be enough. But this is the beginning of my continued support to the people. I may be poor, but very rich in human resources and that is why I think all of us should come together and fight Ebola. Ebola kills and it is real,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Kadie Sesay also appealed to government for the protection of women who take care of their children and husbands who are Ebola positive.
The erstwhile running mate to Bio said she as quite happy to work alongside him and to donate rice to families of Ebola victims who are without food and other basic amenities.
“This donation is not for Bo alone, but the entire country. What has happened clearly shows that Maada has his people at heart, we have asked him to come and talk to you so that you can better understand the dangers of Ebola. More importantly women need more attention,” she concluded.
In his response, Bo District Council Chairman, Joseph Munda Bindi, commended Bio for his commitment and love for Sierra Leoneans, adding that the latter is the first politician to have donated rice to Ebola victims across the country. He said his Council was yet to receive any financial support from the central government to implement most of the strategies put forward to fight against Ebola.
“Government has made a lot of promises to the Council, but we have not received any thing from them. We are working with other humanitarian organizations who are giving some assistance towards Ebola victims and their families.
“I want to extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to Bio and the SLPP family for their continued support,” he concluded.