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NRA sustains Ebola relief efforts

March 16, 2015 By Ann Marie Dumbuya

The National Revenue Authority (NRA) is maintaining its education and relief efforts in combating the Ebola virus. The Authority has for the past two weeks donated assorted food items including rice, sugar, oil, butter and sardines to Ebola quarantined homes in Lungi, Kaffu Bullom Chiefdom in the Port Loko District and Rosanda village, Pakimasabong Chiefdom, 6 miles off Makeni in the Bombali District. According to the Commissioner-General of the NRA, the Authority has selected Port Loko and Bombali districts for special consideration due to new cases of Ebola emerging there.

While there is overall decline in the number of new cases countrywide, the Commissioner-General noted that the disease is yet to be completely eradicated. She said people should not lose sight of the precarious situation in the country.

“We should not be complacent. Wemust stay focused and sustain our Ebola preventive measures and efforts to combat the virus,” Madam Haja Kallah-Kamara added. She said while it is the mandate of the NRA to collect taxes, the Authority has a social obligation to support emergency response and recovery efforts at a time of crisis in the country.

The Commissioner-General explained that fighting the virus is stretching government’s fiscal capacity, stating that the NRA has been playing a vital role in collecting funds to help government fight the Ebola virus and meet other public expenditures.

Since the Ebola outbreak in May last year, the NRA has supported national education and prevention campaign by reaching out and providing food supplies to vulnerable groups and communities such as the Amputee and War Wounded Camp at Grafton Village and Gbomsamba village as part of its corporate social responsibility programme.

In the words of the Commissioner-General, providing food supplies to disabled persons is as important as any sensitization on Ebola transmission and prevention since a large percentage of the disabled population in the country are unemployed and have to beg for food. Access to food would definitely help curtail their movements and hence reduce contact with others, she said.

Meanwhile, the Authority has also donated several boxes of chlorine and disposable gloves to the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) and contributed an additional Le100 million to the Ebola Health Workers Victims Fund at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank. The account now has Le 400 million. The Ebola Victims Families Trust Fund was set up by the Authority on 30th August 2014 to support the families of health workers who die from Ebola. This includes doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians.

According to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, since May 2014, 296 medical personnel have been infected with Ebola out of which 221 have died including 11 senior doctors. This, she recognised, is a great loss considering the fact that the country has barely 300 doctors.

Dr. Sarian Kamara said that while the NRA has made commitments to contribute annually to this Fund, it is imperative that other organizations and well meaning Sierra Leoneans also donate money into the account, as such monies would be used to provide for the livelihood needs of survivors of health works.

The Ebola Health Workers Victim Fund is controlled by a Board of Trustees consisting of representatives from the NRA, Ministries of Health and Social Welfare and the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat.

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