…Minister of State Finance
January 30, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
While delivering the keynote address at the official opening ceremony of a three-day national consultative meeting organized by the Mano River Union (MRU) secretariat at Miatta conference centre in Freetown, Minister of State, Finance and Economic Development, Foday B.L. Mansaray, noted that Sierra Leone is in the most dangerous stage in the fight against Ebola despite the remarkable decline in the number of new confirmed cases.
“We cannot be complacent in the fight against Ebola as a result of the reduction of new confirmed cases. Like a football match, we are now in a most dangerous stage and it’s now important to transcend the fight beyond borders. Sierra Leone can only be safe if only the virus is eradicated in the sub-region,” he said.
He deemed the MRU consultative meeting as timely, thus stressing the need for effective collaboration among the three MRU countries hard hit by the virus.
He noted that the Ebola struck the three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – at a time when they were not prepared, as they had poor health system coupled with the lack of human and technical knowledge to handle such a dangerous phenomenon.
The minister of state further stressed the socio-economic impact of the outbreak, which is exacerbated by halt in all mining activities, cross border trade, agriculture and academic activities in the three MRU countries.
He commended the MRU secretariat “for hosting such an important meeting”, thus emphasizing that the MRU communiqué, signed in Guinea at the start of the outbreak, remains the blueprint in the fight against Ebola.
Country Representative for the African Development Bank, Dr. Yero Baldeh, emphasized the need to continuously involve communities in the fight against Ebola, and expressed hope for the provision of continuous leadership in the fight, as well as commended efforts by the MRU to defeat the virus.
Minister of Youth Affairs, Alimamy Kamara, noted that the MRU is a symbolic institution for member states and that during the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, MRU officials wasted no time in rendering assistance to fight against the scourge.
He said the outbreak has gravely affected the youth population, who he said served as nurses, contact tracers, surveillance officers and social-mobilizers.
He called on the youth to continue to adhere to the advice of health experts and join in the fight against the disease. He underscored the need to empower the youth and make them independent in society.
Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mustapha Bai Atilla, said his ministry is an advocacy and service delivery entity which focuses on the containment of the transmission chain of the outbreak.
He said women and children are disproportionately the hardest hit as a result of their traditional roles in society.
He said 56% of women are affected by the disease as opposed of the 46% of men, and that the trend is the same in the three MRU countries.
He stressed the need to promote psycho-social counselling for affected parties, adding that his ministry would continue to provide support in that direction.
Minister of Local Government, Diana Konomanyi, noted that the Ebola outbreak is a tragedy to the three MRU countries, and that traditional authorities have a responsibility to reduce vulnerability by maintaining by-laws in their respective spheres of influence.
The consultative meeting of traditional communicators, including traditional leaders, women, youth and the media, is geared toward containing the transmission chain of the Ebola Virus Disease in the three MRU countries.