Close to zero but still a long way to go


May 27, 2015 By Amjata Bayoh

In the past weeks, enormous progress has been achieved in the Ebola fight as 11 districts out of 14 in the country have gone beyond the 42 day mark without any new Ebola cases.

Edison Lansana is a SMAC Community Mobiliser who is proud of the work he has been doing in Congo Town. “I am happy and proud of myself because the recent trend shows that social mobilisation is working. We will continue to talk to our people in the community until we end Ebola in Mama Salone because this fight is a collective effort. This is time for us to learn from countries who have been declared Ebola free; if they can do it then we are no exception,” says Lansana.

SMAC has over 2500 community mobilisers working in their various communities in the 14 districts of Sierra Leone. They are largely youth who have been working tremendously hard by delivery life-saving messages to people and serving as a link between the community and the response effort if someone does become sick.

SMAC is the biggest social mobilisation group in the Ebola response and also uses the unique approach of working with religious leaders through FOCUS 1000 who are engaging 4000 Islamic and Christian religious leaders who talk to their congregation with Ebola messages relating to religions belief.

SMAC also has a weekly radio program produced by BBC Media Action Sierra Leone, who are also a SMAC implementing partner that works with over 30 radio stations countrywide to produce local Ebola shows that address their communities concerns. Social mobilisation has proved to be successful in the Ebola fight as it allows the community people to lead the response.

Simeon Sesay is a community health advocate residing at Murray Town who was happy with the success of Liberia over Ebola but also remains concerned about his country Sierra Leone.

“I was happy to hear that Liberia was declared Ebola free but I was also concerned about my country because we have suffered a lot. I will do anything it takes to end Ebola in my community, so I urge every other Sierra Leonean to do the same as we are almost at the finish line. So it’s time to maintain the trend at which we are right now because success is not very far away from Mama Salone,” he says.

Over the past month there has been a significant drop in the number of new cases, a situation which has caused many people to be complacent. Sierra Leoneans must remain vigilant to win the Ebola fight and do all what it takes to get to zero and stay there. People must make use of the 117 toll free line to continue reporting deaths and suspected Ebola cases from their communities and take precautions to help their families and communities end Ebola.