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Lack of better healthcare for survivors: President predicts Ebola scourge may resurface  

June 24, 2019

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

SLAES President Kabba speaking to survivors during a workshop

President of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors (SLAES), Yusuf Kabba, has expressed fear that the deadly Ebola Virus might resurface in the country and even affects the entire West African sub-Region, due to the lack of proper health care service for survivors.

Yusuf Kabba was on Tuesday responding to an exclusive interview from Concord Times at their  headquarters, Jui in Freetown, during an ongoing Paramedics Training for survivors on preparedness, a project  funded by Project 1808.

He expressed worries that as a survivor, he thought it fit to raise an alarm on the issue as he believes there were hundreds of survivors who continue to suffer from different health complications.

“First of all, I am pretty much sure that the Ebola scourge will come back to Sierra Leone. The reason being is that there are so many risks around that justify that Ebola will come one day. The survivors aren’t on a better care, people have forsaken research and this was what we lacked before the Ebola outbreak that killed hundreds of people,’’ he said,

He emphasized the need for routine medical checkups on survivors to ascertain as to how they are faring on with life, adding that he was not in any way saying that survivors will be the source of another scourge, but that they should continue to be assessed even though the Ebola has ended.

“We should continue with that process. The only good thing that will happen is when survivors have access to clinical care but that is totally lacking and forsaken.  That’s one risk and we need to mitigate it. It is like we didn’t learn any lesson as a country. There is no preparedness effort as a country so far.Before now, we were washing our hands, cleaning our environment supporting surveillance system especially at the border areas, but all that has stopped. But If you asked the Ministry of Health they will say everything is in place,’’ Kabba said.

Kabba added that they have been abandoned as vulnerable people in the country, stating that they were living testimonies about the Ebola disease and that they have a lot to do to prevent it from resurfacing.

He said Sierra Leoneans have forsaken the history of Ebola and that government and the people of Sierra Leone have refused to recognize the day the Virus was detected in the country.

“May 25th was the official day we got the first confirmed case of the deadly Ebola disease.  We have pushed for recognition of that  day as a national holiday which will be a day for us Sierra Leoneans to reflect and think about survivors and lost ones,’’ he said.

The SLAES President lamented another risk-the burial sites where Ebola victims were buried, stating that the site has been abandoned with no care from the government.

He called on the government to pay serious attention to the burial site and conduct frequent maintenance.
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“There isn’t much preparedness on the part of government for any future outbreak. If I can reference when the Ebola scourge started at DRC, Central Africa, Uganda took all the measures and they began by vaccinating people. They did everything and now they have got a confirmation case. It is one key thing that worries us and we decide through the support of Project 1808 headed by Dr.  Alhaji Njai for us to start a paramedics training to justify that Ebola will come. That’s the key reason for the workshop for survivors on preparedness and paramedics,” he said.

The SLAES President further said that the government has not been engaging them on issues bothering on them, which he said could be a serious challenge with respect to any future outbreak.

“Female survivors have started engaging in prostitution which is also another public health concern. They have started abusing some of  them. We always feel uncomfortable with this kind of situation,” he said.

He noted that they have written a letter to President Julius Maada Bio about their issues but have not received any reply from him.

“The president knows about our issues because during the launch of the Commissions of Inquiry I narrated all our challenges and called on him to intervene,” he said.

Yusuf Kabba urged government to undertake institutional reforms; especially with regards programmes which the previous government established but are not sustainable.

 Sierra Leone experienced the worst Ebola from 2014-2016 and the disease killed thousands of Sierra Leoneans including health workers.

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