Sierra Leone News: WHO reacts quickly to tackle new Ebola outbreak in Congo

Expert staff and equipment have been sent to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to quick-start the process of combating a new outbreak of Ebola, World Health Organization said. The last outbreak of this fatal virus in Congo was declared over just a week ago.
Ebola is a constant threat in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the virus thrives in heavily forested areas. This latest outbreak is the 10th since the first one was discovered in 1976. This new outbreak in North Kivu province is 2,500 kilometers away from Equateur Province, the site of the previous outbreak, and there is no link between the two. The virus was discovered in a village near the city of Beni in North Kivu, which hosts more than one million displaced people. The province shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda, with a lot of cross border movement due to brisk trade.
WHO spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic, said the DRC Ministry of Health informed WHO Wednesday that four of six samples taken in North Kivu tested positive for Ebola virus. He said it is crucial to gain access to the area as quickly as possible. He added having people and material in the country from the outbreak in Equateur is very helpful in tackling the outbreak.
“We really need to get into the area to do epidemiological investigations, try to find cases, try to work with health workers, to strengthen infection prevention and control measures and also to start with the contact tracing,” he said. “It is, on the other hand, worrying that this area is a conflict zone. It is an area with lots of displacement, so the access can be hampered in that way.”
The WHO will work with these neighboring countries to try to prevent the virus from crossing over. Jasarevic said identifying the type of Ebola virus that is circulating is a priority, as that will tell scientists whether the vaccine used to help contain the outbreak in Equateur province can also be used in North Kivu.
Awoko Friday August 09, 2018.

Save the Children donates drugs to hospitals



The medical supplies were donated at Lumley and 34 Military hospitals

As the rainy season peaks in Sierra Leone, Save the Children Sierra Leone Country Office has made a significant and timely donation of large consignment of drugs to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to the total sum of EUR 42,850.00.

Although Sierra Leone’s Ebola epidemic ended in what now seem a long time ago, Save the Children Sierra Leone maintained a robust Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capacity through its preposition Emergency Health Unit in Freetown.

The donated drugs for Infection Prevention and Control were delivered at the Lumley Government hospital and the 34 military hospital this week.

Receiving the drugs at LumLey hospital on behalf of the government, Medical Superintendent Dr. David Jalloh stated that ‘the donation is timely because the hospital is desperately in need of drugs for we have run out of stock.’

Dr. Jalloh expressed gratitude on behalf of the hospital and his authorities and urged Save the Children to continue such initiatives, stating that the organization, as the name implies, saves not only children but even adults.

The Commanding Officer of 34 Military Hospital, Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Stephen Sevalie, echoed similar sentiments, thus assuring Save the Children that they would make best use of the donated drugs and items.

The donation comprises Infection Prevention and Control materials, syringes and several Emergency Health kits ranging from diarrhea prevention and treatment to anti-malarial module for basic unit, kit, and an anti-malarial module for Supplementary Drugs unit.

Ramatu Jalloh, Save the Children’s Director of Communication, said collaboration with the Ministry of Health at the central, district and local levels was critical in ensuring that systems and resources are well aligned for a robust response to humanitarian crises.

She noted that Save the Children was committed to its partnership with government, disclosing that the organisation has been in Sierra Leone for over 18 years (since 1999).

Ms. Jalloh said their work includes but not limited to health, nutrition, education protection, water and sanitation, and humanitarian response across the country.

“Our commitment throughout has been to complement the national strategies and policies of the government of the day to deliver on its mandate to its children, its people and country. We have also been working to help build the capacity of our partner NGOs and senior government personnel in Emergency Preparedness and Response, including gender in humanitarian crises. Save the Children has worked with authorities at district level to identify culturally sensitive means of addressing gender needs in emergency,” she concluded.

Concord Times 8th August 2018

Sierra Leone News: Orphan, Aged appreciates ‘Status Quo’

Residents at St Georges Orphanage and King George’s Home for the Aged (Old People’s Home), at Grafton were taken aback recently by an unexpected donation from ‘Status Quo’ Sierra Leone.
The Non Governmental Organization (NGO) donated food, clothing and other essential items to residents of both homes.
Presenting the items at the St George’s Orphanage, Status Quo Chairman, Alex Thomas said as a parent it was touching to see the kids in the orphanage. “Notwithstanding life goes on… don’t give up, remember all is not lost,” he admonished them. “We’ve seen people from very humble beginning and they are now very important people in our society today. You are the next leaders of this nation,” he added.
Alex further stated that the items are bought from members of Status Quo Sierra Leone hard earn cash and not from any overseas funding, also noting that they deemed it necessary to give such gifts to the needy as a way of paying back to society.
The National Commander, Ibrahim Kai Aruna assured residents that the donation won’t be a flash in the pan however they would be visiting with more donations in due time.
The National Brain, Anthony Gogra remarked, “we knew that people with such needs like these are in our society.”
The Orphanage Home Manager, Yeama Conteh said that there are people with money but lack the heart to give. “we want to thank you for thinking about these Orphans.”
Status Quo Sierra Leone is a Non Governmental Organization started in the 80’s as a college fraternity that believes in diversity, advocate for the voiceless and caters for the needy. However over the years thousands of students went through it and decided to form an NGO that would continue in the spirit of giving on a nationwide scale.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Awoko Thursday August 02, 2018.

Sierra Leone News: Govt. commits $10m for coastal resilience

In an effort to achieve its Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement on climate change and the goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty and hunger worldwide in the next 12 years, the Government of Sierra Leone has launched a new project that will build resilience for its coastal residents and employ cutting-edge ecosystem-based approaches to restore mangrove habitats and protect against rising seas, rising temperatures and uncertain climate futures.
The five-year Adapting to Climate Change Induced Coastal Risks Management in Sierra Leone project benefits from a $9.9 million USD grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund and $31.6 million USD in co-financing from the government of Sierra Leone and partners.
The project is supported through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and is designed to strengthen the ability of coastal communities to systematically manage climate change risks in six pilot sites (Conakry Dee, Lakka, Hamilton, Tombo, Shenge and Turtle Island).
Key national partners include Sierra Leone’s Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Institute of Marine Biology and Oceanography, and the National Tourist Board.
“Climate change, sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and increased risks from floods and other natural disasters threaten the lives and livelihoods of the more than 3 million people that live on Sierra Leone’s coastline,” said Foday Jaward, Executive Chairperson of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“By taking bold actions to protect the ecosystems of our coastline and build climate-smart economies, the Government of Sierra Leone is taking important steps in contributing to ensure no one is left behind in our race to achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Almost half of Sierra Leone’s 530-kilometer-long coastline is protected by mangrove forests. But with few economic options, the forests have been decimated to collect wood for burning, while beaches and dune areas are being destroyed by illegal sand and stone mining operations.
“The key to this project will be providing local communities with the training, tools and technologies they need to diversify their incomes beyond mangrove cutting, and empower women and youth to play a more active role in a vibrant economy that protects our environment while at the same time providing families with the money they need to thrive,” said Jaward.
By Ophaniel Gooding
Awoko Thursday August 02, 2018.

New strain of Ebola virus found in Bombali Sierra Leone – says ministry of health

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 July 2018:

Sierra Leone’s ministry of health has confirmed that a new strain of Ebola virus – known as the Bombali Virus (BOMV), has been found in bats in the Bombali district of Sierra Leone.

It’s not known whether the new strain can develop into the deadly Ebola disease, if transmitted to humans.

In 2013 to 2015, an Ebola virus outbreak killed over 11,000 across West Africa, with Sierra Leone suffering the loss of over 4,000 people, as the Koroma led APC government was accused of neglect, incompetence and corruption.

“At this time, it is not yet known if the Bombali Ebola virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people. But it has the potential to infect human cells,” Amara Jambai, a senior ministry of health official told AFP.

“This is early stages of the findings,” Jambai added, calling on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research.

A health ministry spokesman and a researcher who worked on the discovery confirmed the findings to AFP.

Researchers who found the new virus in the northern Bombali region are now working with the Sierra Leone government to determine whether any humans were infected.

“As precautionary measures, people should refrain from eating bats,” Harold Thomas, health ministry spokesman told AFP.

The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The West African outbreak was caused by the Zaire species, which has historically been the most deadly in humans since it was first identified in 1976.

That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to World Health Organization estimates.

Umaru Fofanah reported: “Minister of Health, Dr Alpha Tejan Wurie told me that the virus – which is yet to be named – “does not have all its gene types similar to Ebola” and stressed that it was “not Ebola”. He said even if it had spread to humans, the virus which was discovered in Bombali District would not have the same effect as the Ebola Virus Disease which killed more than 3,000 people in Sierra Leone in 2014/15. He said the discovery which followed months of research, meant that the country was in a state of readiness and was better equipped to deal with any situation. Dr Wurie, who owns one of the best laboratories in the country, warned the public against panic and to refrain from eating bats.”

Sierra Leone Telegraph 27 July 2018

World Bank Senior Director for Education Global Practice, Jaime Saavedra, has noted that the government flagship Free Quality Education Program is a very important initiative and that the World Bank is supportive of the policy to provide quality education for all.

Director Jaime Saavedra had made three-day visitation to Sierra Leone between July 4th and 6th 2018, with the objective to reinforce the Bank’s commitment to support the country to increase access to quality education in early childhood, primary and secondary education and to discuss government financing policy for education and skills development and the implementation of the Human Capital Project.

He reiterated that the World Bank was willing to supporting the government education agenda and that they were committing about $USD40 million United States Dollars to education.

He added that they have approved the first ten million United States Dollars in December 2017 for basic education and that in September 2018 they would approve $20 million for technical education.

Jaime Saavedra further that they were working now with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance to give another $10 million that is expect to be approved in 2021.

He said in December, 2017, the World Bank committed ten Million United States Dollars ($10m) towards Basic Education to support school grants to 1,800 primary schools under the Revitalizing Education in Sierra Leone (REDiSL).

Addressing the press in the Bank’s Office in Freetown, Director Jaime Saavedra said he was in the country for three days and that he had visited schools and vocational centres across the country and also had meetings with President Julius Maada Bio, the Ministry Finance and the Ministry of Education.

He said a World Bank Report launched last year showed that more children were in school in developing countries but many of them were not learning because they don’t have the fundamental skills to read and write, adding that the situation remains a huge challenge for the African continent.

He said government would be embarking on a very challenging task to providing free quality education for all, would not be easy because it would require huge resources.

He noted that it was good that government was committing twenty percent budget into the initiative.

He disclosed that the World Bank together with the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance, will prepare a new project Focusing Resources on Equity and Excellence in Education Project (FREE Education) to support the government flagship program to provide Free Quality Education.

Pregnant women at great risk in 2 Pujehun chiefdoms

Bike riders destroying the boat

By Mohamed T. Massaquoi

Health workers in Pujehun have warned of a high risk to pregnant women in the Makpele and Sorogbeima chiefdoms because of the delay in the arrival of referral cases due to the difficulty in accessing the maternity hospital in the town.

The two chiefdoms are separated from the district headquarters by the Moa River. The only ferry has been grounded due to the high tide and the only outboard engine boat used for night referrals has been destroyed by angry motorbike transport riders after it capsized leaving their priced assets stuck on the riverbed.

“We are expecting a big impact on the referral system, since we cannot cross patients anymore during the night” Dorothee Fransesca, an Italian Doctor attached to the maternity hospital in Pujehun, told Politico.

She said the ill-fated boat was the only means of bringing patients across from the two chiefdoms, accounted for a third of the pregnant women her hospital cares for.

Sources say the boat was overloaded and capsized last week with seven people and four motor bikes on board. A Liberian woman is still said to be missing.

The bike riders, among those rescued, were angry at the loss of their priced assets and used axes to destroy the boat in anger.

So at present there is no way of transporting patients at night because the ferry that does so plies the route only during the day.

The ill-fated boat and an ambulance were donated to the Pujehun district council during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, by the Italian doctors directly managing the only maternity hospital in the district. The boat was only set to transport pregnant women and other seriously sick people for prompt medical attention.

A civil society activist working for Health for All Coalition Sualiho Koroma told Politico that “the boat was overloaded by its operators. He said the heavy rains meant the river was choppy and the boat capsized.

He referred to the reaction of the bike riders as “a disappointment” and called on the district council and the district disaster management committee to immediately intervene.

The chairman of the Pujehun District Council, Sheik Suhibu Sowa attributed the boat accident to “the carelessness of the successive government” for not fixing a bridge at the Moa crossing point dating back to “when some of us were children and every year we experienced the same incident”.

He said he would rather the bridge at Moala had been built before the one at Ngondama in the Bo district which he said already existed. He said he could not visit the scene because of the high tide and the fact that there was no other means of crossing with the boat damaged.

He lamented over the fact there was no way of getting patients from that end to access health facilities in the district headquarters. “But as a council we have made some arrangement with the Kenema DHMT to be accommodating our patients from that part of the district” he said. That route is however a terrible terrain that takes several hours and costs a lot more.

He said he had summoned a meeting with the Paramount Chiefs and other district authorities to try to address the situation with immediate effect.

When asked who would be responsible for taking patients to Kenema, he said the Italian doctors had always shouldered the financial aspect of getting patients from that end, something he said he expected to continue.

courtesy of  Politico Online 16 July 2018