3c Beoku Lane,
Off Congo Cross,
27th January 2016
His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma
The President of the Republic Of Sierra Leone
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Dear President Ernest Bai Koroma.
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT ON THE RESURGENCE OF EBOLA
Greetings Your Excellency, I have been following the ebola virus disease outbreak since we first recorded the first confirmed laboratory case in May 2014 with keen interest and I write to officially draw your attention to the recent confirmed laboratory case in the northern region of Tonkolili and its environ. I personally want to thank you for your words, because your words are powerful, and necessary for change. But words are not enough. We need action. Your Excellency, as Head of State, the supreme executive authority of the Republic, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Fountain of Honor and Justice and the symbol of national unity and sovereignty, I’m kindly appealing to you to use your conditional power of your office to solve this whole Ebola issue now before it escalates into something else.
Evidently, Sierra Leone has implemented the most expensive elaborate, most sophisticated and most expensive anti-ebola campaign but I say this will all meticulousness that, some Sierra Leoneans have failed to owned this fight after we were declared ebola free some months back.
We have totally let our guard down. I have been attending several church services, workshops, seminars and meetings., unfortunately for me, all the Veronica buckets or ebola bucket were no were to be seen. These buckets must be still in use as a way of maintaining personal hygiene. The standard precautions stated during ebola (washing of hands etc) must continue as they are basic hygiene standards guard against all manger of infection and we must continue sensitization of the key standard precautions.
I was compelled to write this letter after I watched a TV program recently on EVD and there were divergent opinions from the panelists; i.e many unpaid ebola workers, facilities were not maintained, unfulfilled promises to the health workers etc. So until we address these concerns, we can never start the post ebola program in earnest. Heads up and boots on the ground should be our focused now as we have gained a lot and we must not watch our successes go down the grain as a party, government and individuals. Let me just raise few point based on my assessments across the health sector and please permit me to make these recommendation on both the health system and the people as a whole.
1. MOH retaining the NERC or a body for preparedness for Humanitarian crisis like Ebola. Body should include all multidisciplinary members that know how to operate using their expertise.
2. Health department?s e.g hospitals- private or Government owned to take responsibilities in getting an in-house preparedness body and systems in place to address epidemics.
3. SL has lost considerable health professionals on that note Government MUST subsidize training of these Health workers. Health service lacks specialist professionals relevant to Ebola and other epidemics hence, Government MUST ensure more laboratory technicians, Doctors and nurses for specialist roles.
4. Equipments and facilities to be in place in all District hospitals adequate enough to handle management and diagnosis of diseases.
5. All hospitals MUST have a triage (screening) sections at hospitals to detect early symptoms of Ebola and should also have isolation units to keep them until swabs are negative.
6. Ebola eradication was more about public health education therefore; MOH must ensure Primary health care is paramount approach in prevention of Ebola or anyother disease or outbreak. There’s need for the return of public health outreach clinics to the REMOTEST regions of the Country. Logistics MUST be available to achieve goals.
7. The sanitation of the hospitals is paramount; there should be an Infection Prevention and Control staff/officer (IPC) in EVERY hospital. There SHOULD be mandatory study day for IPC and on induction programme for all new employees.
1. Media use in public health should be continues e.g TV programmes addressing such health matters and Radio programmes too.
2. People MUST be educated to take responsibility of their health and the effects on the nation from their lack of interest to adhere to precautionary measures.
3. Stakeholders at District levels- Chiefs, counsellors etc to take responsibilities in SAFEGUARDING their people.
4. People SHOULD be given the reassurance of continues use of 117 to report suspected cases and the response by the NERC.
Your Excellency, please look into the new case and ensure that all support is given to these affected homes, areas and communities and ensure proper disease surveillance for proper contact tracing.
Your Excellency, I want to use this opportunity too thank you for all the wonderful developments that you have embarked on and for taking us to another level in Sierra Leone and I also thank you for your kind attention to the above matters.
Together we are greater than ebola or any form of illness. We are better together. Together in unity, Sierra Leone can develop. May Almighty God continue to abundantly bless us all as we work towards the continued development and transformation of our one and only Sierra Leone.
Thank you for your audience.
Bockarie Kukuku Musa