Ebola outbreak exposed, directed Health Ministry, Health Minister admits


December 9, 2015 By Samuel Ben Turay

Top officials at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation have confirmed that the Ebola outbreak exposed lapses in the ministry and at the same time directed them as to how to tackle any future epidemic.

In a meeting on Monday at the conference room of the ministry, Dr. Abubakar Fofanah, Health and Sanitation Minister, said the outbreak of the deadly Ebola did expose the lapses in his ministry, as well as direct officials as to what should be done for any future outbreak.

He noted that prior to the outbreak his ministry lacked the foresight of where they could prioritse their intervention, adding that he was not happy that the virus spread into Sierra Leone but elated that they have been able to identify gaps they need to strengthen in the ministry.

“Our mission is to contribute to socio-economic development by promoting and ensuring quality health for the Sierra Leone population. Our mission is to deliberately build progressive, responsive and sustainable technologically-driven, evidence-based and client-centered health system for accelerated attainment of the highest standard of health to all Sierra Leoneans,” said Dr. Fofanah.

The health minister recalled that on 19 March, 2014 the World Health Organization confirmed news of the Ebola outbreak in neighboring Guinea, describing the virus as a mysterious illness, and confirmed on 20 March that it was the deadly Ebola virus disease, previously only prevalent in the Great Lakes region.

Dr. Fofanah said when the outbreak was confirmed in the country his ministry formed and chaired a National Task Force on Ebola with partners like WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, DIFID, EU, AFDB, civil society groups and international and local non- governmental organisations to stop its spread, “but little equipment and knowledge on the virus.”

The major intervention undertaken by the government, the minister said, includes intensified surveillance system, case search, contact tracing, ban on social gathering, closure of schools and learning institutions, capacity building and training on various aspects of the disease, a strong message by the President to the populace, and securing funds and commitment to the tune of Le14 Billion  within weeks of the outbreak, among other interventions, followed by the setting up of a Presidential Task Force.