Madda Bio sends out Christmas and New Year Message
Every Christmas and New Year season, Sierra Leoneans across the country engage in various activities in commemoration of the festive season. Children visit their relatives; family members gather to share food and good memories to strengthen their bonds; social clubs and organisations organise events including carnivals and outings; musicians and other entertainers organise music shows, concerts or album launchings; citizens either participate or watch masquerade processions; citizens witness the annual Boxing Day sport meetings and many Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora travel home for holidays to spend time with their families and loved ones. (Photo: Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio)
Unfortunately, we cannot celebrate our Christmas and New Year as we used to do due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). This is part of the continuous sacrifices we have to make as a people to support the efforts by Government, Non-Governmental Organisations and the International Community to break the chain of transmission and contain the Ebola Virus.
Many families across the country at this time will be either thinking about their relatives who might have been infected by the Ebola disease or those family members who have lost loved ones to the Ebola virus. To the nation, the passing away of over 100 health workers including nearly a dozen medical doctors is a great loss and a setback to a healthcare infrastructure that was already breaking at the seams even before the outbreak.
Children who have been left as orphans rather than commemorating Christmas like other children, will be thinking of how different this festive season would have been for them had both their parents or mother or father been spared by the Ebola disease.
Without doubt, the stubborn increase in the infection rate of the Ebola Virus is a serious concern for every citizen at home and abroad. Therefore, whilst I recognise the continued efforts by the Government of Sierra Leone and our development partners in the fight against the EVD, I urge the leadership to mobilise the entire country to bring an end to this national calamity without further delay. In particular, I implore the Government of Sierra Leone to intensify efforts in the following areas: contact tracing, indiscriminate enforcements of laws and bye-laws, close monitoring of quarantined homes and communities, community sensitisation, regular payment of salaries and allowances of frontline workers, and the adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to both public and private health clinics.
Furthermore, the fear of contracting the disease has caused many doctors and health workers to travel out of the country or to cease practice. There are frequent reports of deaths caused by non-Ebola diseases because health care workers have fear to provide treatment. To avoid such unwarranted deaths, I call on government to deploy some foreign health workers alongside their local counterparts in specially designated hospitals and clinics to provide treatment to non-Ebola patients.
Unlike previous Christmas and other festive seasons, this time we also have many international health workers and support staff from donor agencies and goodwill countries who have come to Sierra Leone to help us in the fight against this deadly virus – Ebola. At a time like this, these international health workers and support staff would have been in their respective countries enjoying Christmas and the festive season with their families, but they have forgone that to help us in defeating this virus. I want to express my deepest appreciation for their continuous support.
As Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, despite our present state of anxiety about the persistent increase in the infection rate of the Ebola virus, I want to remind fellow citizens that Christmas is a time to remember the birth and life of Jesus Christ. As a Christian myself, I appeal to both Christians and Muslims to use this opportunity to pray for our country. We must also remember in our prayers all those doctors, nurses, other health workers and support staff who continue to put their lives at risk on a daily basis in the efforts to defeat this virus. And, we should never forget the many doctors and nurses who have given their lives in serving their country and humanity – they deserve our fullest honour.
I call on all Sierra Leoneans to continue to support the Government as we collectively fight to break the chain of transmission and contain the virus. I encourage all of us to look forward to the New Year with hope and optimism that we will defeat Ebola and begin to rebuild our broken lives, communities and our country. As a people and a country our collective fortitude has been tested in the past in times of war and we overcame the odds. We must use that great fortitude in us to defeat the Ebola Disease collectively as one people and one country.
I salute the extraordinary courage of international health workers and the tremendous support Sierra Leone has received from countries like the United Kingdom, China, United States of America, Cuba, Nigeria and other AU member states and a host of other countries.
I wish you all a merry Christmas and a 2015 of Hope and Optimism.
God bless Sierra Leone.Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio 2012 Presidential Candidate, Sierra Leone People’s Party Currently, Senior Research Fellow John & Elnoral Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS) University of Bradford
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