NOVEMBER 26, 2014 By Victoria Saffa
Makeni and Port Loko districts are set to miss out on the 1st December target by the United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER) to admit up to 70% of confirmed Ebola cases across the country, according to UNMEER Coordinator Anthony Banbury.
While addressing journalists on Monday on progress made so far to contain the further transmission of the virus that has killed more than 1,200 people across the country, with 5,000 more infected, Mr. Banbury said UNMEER set the goal of having 70% of Ebola patients in treatment and 70% of victims safely buried in September, although the daily spike in new infection has left them less optimistic.
Bombali and Port Loko districts have in excess of 700 infection rate, only below the Western Area, and above Kailahun and Kenema, hitherto the two epicentre districts. While the rate of new infection continues to decrease in the two eastern districts, the Western Area and two northern districts have recorded hundreds of new cases in recent weeks.
According to Mr. Banbury, some areas in Bomabli and Port Loko are difficult to reach due to tough terrain, adding that in order to stem the high rate of transmission in rural areas, health workers need to deploy rapid response units with specialists and equipment that can be flown by helicopter to remote villages.
He noted that another factor responsible for the spread of the virus is the lack of compliance by some traditional and cultural leaders to observe national preventive strategies put in place by the government.
However, he expressed optimism that they will meet the target in some areas, including Freetown and previous epicentre towns, and urged that government put in place a robust surveillance mechanism to monitor cross border spread of the virus from emerging countries like Mali.
Meanwhile, authorities in Makeni have begun to put in place stringent measures to prevent the spread of the virus by enforcing bylaws adopted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development months ago.
According to Councillor Amara Yansaneh of Ward 111 in Kamakwei, Sella Limba chiefdom, Bombali district has imposed a 21-day ban on all commercial vehicles plying from Freetown or other towns in the country to Makeni.
It is worth noting though that Bombali and Port Loko were among the last set of districts to be isolated by the president in October, thus preventing unauthorized vehicles, including commercial vehicles, from plying into and out of the districts.