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Sierra Leone
Friday, May 20, 2022

‘Our medical & health facilities put to test’

- says President Koroma

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

CRISIS TIME … President Ernest Bai Koroma briefing the media last Friday
CRISIS TIME … President Ernest Bai Koroma briefing the media last Friday

President Ernest Bai Koroma has stated that the outbreak of the Ebola virus in May, which has claimed the lives of over two hundred and seventy (270) Sierra Leoneans and continues to spread across the country, has put to test the nation’s medical facilities and personnel.

According to the President, it was important that everyone, including health workers, learn lessons from the dreaded outbreak and continue to build on the health capacity of the country.

As a demonstration of government’s commitment towards the eradication of the Ebola virus in the country, Koroma disclosed that they had initially provided Le10 billion to support the fight but that total funding to combat the disease has now been increased to about Le50 billion.

“In addition to the treatment centers, there are still challenges in training surveillance officers and contact tracers to have more of them in all the districts,” said President Koroma. “We need more professionals to come in and train contact tracers and burial teams. At the moment, we have a little over 900 contact tracers and we will require at least 2000 of them.”

Koroma commended the response of Sierra Leoneans to the fight, adding that the fear about the disease has diminished while the denial has also considerably reduced.

He explained that in the fight against Ebola, one is not only required to have the treatment centers (which come at the tail end) but rather to sensitize communities and homes, and to ensure there are enough personnel to be able to contact and trace those that have been exposed to the disease.

“In the government’s quick response to the outbreak, we prepared a national response programme for a six-month period to address the need to have treatment centers, officials trained to be surveillance officers, contact tracers and burial teams, and heightened social mobilization and sensitization,” he explained and disclosed that a total of US$26 million has been budgeted to implement the programme but a little over US$7 million has been provided by the government as a commitment with a funding gap of US$18 million.

President Koroma commended the efforts of the health workers who have been the “frontline soldiers” in the fight against the disease despite limited capacities in terms of training and equipment, stressing that fighting the Ebola virus requires specialized training that is not easily acquired, as well as expertise that is limited in numbers in the world over.

“The fight is yet to be contained because the figures are still growing regarding deaths and confirmed cases, but the good thing is there is a large number of survivors,” said President Koroma.

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