‘Health workers are our greatest patriots’


- President Koroma

DECEMBER 8, 2014 By Jariatu Bangura & Samuel J. Kargbo

President Ernest Bai Koroma
President Ernest Bai Koroma

President Ernest Bai Koroma has stated that Sierra Leonean health workers are patriots in the fight against the deadly Ebola disease, likening them to loyal soldiers during the civil war, as they routinely put themselves in harm’s way to save lives.

Speaking during the State Opening of the Second Session of the Fourth Parliament, President Koroma said, “Our doctors and nurses have ensured that over 1,100 of those infected have been healed. Over 80% of personnel on the ground fighting the disease are Sierra Leoneans.”

He said Sierra Leonean doctors and nurses provide most the frontline services at various treatment and holding centres across the country, while other compatriots are contact tracers, members of the surveillance and burial teams.

“The largest treatment centre in the country with 120 beds at Hastings opened in September is run by young Sierra Leonean doctors and nurses and they have since ensured the survival of 350 affected people with the virus,” the president said glowingly about the heroics of local medicos.

He said the Ebola outbreak has hit the country very badly because of its close-knit society, and the fact that people live in very close proximity to each other and can reach other towns and villages in record time, thus “a tragedy in any part of Sierra Leone is a tragedy everywhere in this country”.

President Koroma maintained that Ebola is not a disease of any district, region or country, but one of the world due to globalization, increased urbanization, faster transportation and denser network of people moving between rural and urban areas across borders, which fuels the rapid spread of the deadly virus to other areas.

“The Ebola virus disease is a war against us, and we must fight it with tenacity, resolve and discipline. Our objective now is to break the chain of transmission of the disease and stop its spread. The way to do this is to ensure safe burial, remove the infected from communities to holding and treatment centres, and hasten Ebola tests,” he urged.

The outbreak has been particularly brutal to medics in Sierra Leone, infecting and killing all but two doctors, while prematurely ending the lives of scores of nurses.