SEPTEMBER 11, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
President Ernest Bai Koroma has commended the United States government for its “continuous support to the government and people of Sierra Leone”, especially at this difficult moment in the country’s battle against the deadly Ebola outbreak.
The President made the commendation while receiving five ambulances from the Charge d’Affairs of the United States Embassy in Sierra Leone, Madam Kathleen FitzGibbon.
He said the donation is significant towards the fight against Ebola, noting that the ambulances came at a time the government needed them most and that they will be judiciously utilized in the fight against the dreaded disease.
According to Madam FitzGibbon, the U.S. government has been engaged in the Ebola outbreak response since the first cases were reported in the country, and that the five ambulances which she was handing over to the government of Sierra Leone were part of the overall U.S. support to the country.
“These ambulances are on loan from the U.S. Peacekeeping Logistics Depot. Over the past months, we have expanded our efforts and deployed additional personnel in the region in response to the increase severity of the outbreak,” she said. “We are working closely with the government of Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization, and other international partners.”
The Charge d’Affairs noted that the United States currently has some 100 specialists working in all Ebola affected countries.
“Our activities include the provision of health equipment and emergency supplies, support for public health messaging and technical expertise to assist with issues such as airport screening and contact tracing,” she said, adding that in Sierra Leone the majority of U.S. government resources come in the form of expertise, leadership and management, among others.
Ms. FitzGibbon said they currently have 30 Centre for Disease Control staff members deployed in the country to provide expertise in running the laboratory in Kenema, and to assist the Ministry of Health and Sanitation with data analysis to target ways to interrupt the transmission of the disease.
Additionally, the U.S. government provides funding and long-term supplies to WHO, UNICEF, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and World Food Programme (WFP), among others. In Sierra Leone U.S. funding included US$200,000 for a UNICEF programme in the region to provide health clinics and household with supplies including soap, bleach, gloves and masks, she concluded.