MOHS Highlights Ebola Challenges
The Public Relations Expert in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Jonathan Abass Kamara, has said that negative traditional beliefs and wrong political perceptions are hampering the collective effort of the ministry and its partners in combating the deadly Ebola disease plaguing this nation.
He was addressing a galaxy of journalists on the 16th July at the Gender Empowerment Centre at John Street in Freetown during a day-long training session on Ebola.
Mr. Kamara stated that one of their major challenges in their anti-Ebola campaign is the political misconception that since the disease entered this country via the opposition SLPP stronghold districts of Kailahun and Kenema, the disease has been politically misconstrued to depopulate the two districts ahead of the 2014 census and in preparation for the 2018 elections.
Another major challenge is the misperception that the Health Ministry has been intentionally injecting Ebola into children with the pretext of immunizing them, doing so to have quick access to donor funding. This misperception, he went on, originated from the fact that the outbreak of the disease coincided with the “Mammy and Kombra” week when the ministry was administering vitamin A immunization to children.
Another main challenge he highlighted is the harboring of suspected Ebola patients and taking them to traditional healers, quack doctors and unapproved health facilities. He called on the media to partner with the ministry and other health actors to help them combat this deadly disease.
In his key note address, the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Kelvin Lewis, recalled that at the initial stage of the Ebola outbreak, the media was called all sorts of names for reporting the truth, today, the same people who ridiculed the media are desperately calling on them to help them combat the disease. He urged his colleague journalists to pick up their pens, microphones and computers to fight Ebola out of Sierra Leone.
The Health Communication Officer in the MOHS, Mr. Harold Thomas, said the ministry is closely monitoring 37 of the most dangerous diseases in the world though only Lassa fever, Yellow fever and Ebola are present in Sierra Leone. He warned people to refrain from touching dead bodies, sick people and the body fluids of Ebola-infected persons.
Statements were made by the WHO and UNICEF representatives but all stressed on restoring and maintaining trust in medical practitioners. They concluded by warning that Ebola is highly fatal but advised that the earlier you visit the hospital, the more chances of survival you will have.
Tamba M. Musa
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