Ebola Fight and the Social Media
The outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Mano River Union (MRU) countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is not only a regional threat but also a global threat. The global response to the Ebola fight in the three countries has been enormous following the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s appeal to mobilize resources to support the governments of the three countries to contain the deadly disease.
There has been marked improvement in the Ebola fight in Sierra Leone with the drop of new cases across the board. The number of reported cases of Ebola in the Eastern districts of Kailahun and Kenema where the EVD was first confirmed have drastically declined. Pujehun District has also been declared Ebola-free – the first district in the country with zero recorded cases of the virus for over 40 days now. With the construction of more holding and treatment centers in the country, coupled with the deployment of medical experts from advanced countries like the USA, Britain, China, Cuba, South Korea, and Australia, there is semblance of light at the end of the tunnel.
However, the most perturbing issue about the Ebola fight is how some Sierra Loeneans at home and abroad are using the social media to mislead the world about the outbreak and how government is tackling the pandemic. Some of these Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora; from whom much is expected, are using the social media to present our country and government in bad light; as if they are not citizens of Sierra Leone. Since the outbreak of the virus, series of fabricated, baseless and unfounded reports have been posted in the social media – reports which the authors cannot substantiate.
These reports are aimed at black mailing the government and destroying the image of the country to which all of us belong. These fifth columnists could be used by detractors and frustrated politicians now using the Ebola outbreak and its devastating effects on human lives and our national economy to criticize government in the social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. All damning allegations against the government are being posted in the social media almost on daily basis.
Why should some of our compatriots be so heartless to damage the image of their country to the outside world because of politics or whatever hidden agenda they may have? I know political opinions may vary, but we should put our political differences aside at this time and unite in the fight to contain and eliminate the deadly virus from the country. The disease has affected every tribe and party supporters; the virus is only affecting one tribe or party supporter. Even those writing damning reports in the social media must have many of their siblings affected by the virus in one way or the other way back home. But they just don’t care; all they are interested in is that, this is the opportune moment to use the PhD syndrome to destroy the government and the image of the country. But their devilish intention to discredit the president and the government to the outside world will surely boomerang.
It is rather unfortunate for Sierra Leoneans out there destroying their country while there are patriotic ones contributing immensely to the Ebola fight. Thousands of citizens at home and abroad have contributed personally and are still contributing to the fight even though the international community is playing its part to contain the killer disease.
These are the kind of things we expect from patriotic Sierra Leoneans; helping the country when in need; instead of provoking situation because your political party is not in power. Many believe that those sending negative reports in the social media are proxies of politicians who want to bring the government down. But they will never succeed because the government has done tremendously well since it came to power in 2007 with indicators to substantiate.
It is very unpatriotic to present your country in bad light to the outside world at a time when our people are living in fear, panic and great confusion because of the outbreak of the virus which is completely new to them. It is not happening in Liberia and Guinea. This is the time we should stand firmly by our government and its international partners to ensure that the fight against the virus is won as quickly as possible so that the country’s development programmes will commence again.
Let us use the social media to tell the true story about what is happening in Sierra Leone. The world should know that the President and the Government have made relentless efforts to defeat the virus, using even resources that were meant for development projects to fight the Ebola virus which has posed serious threats to mankind. Yet, government is meeting all its commitments such as paying salaries and allowances of public officials on time and supporting other activities in the country.
As patriotic Sierra Leoneans, let us unite in the fight against the virus so that it would be defeated unanimously once and for all. It is a battle we shall surely win, should we put aside our political differences and support the government in all its endeavours to win the fight within the shortest possible time. Our children and teachers want to go back to school, but they cannot because of the Ebola outbreak. The students and lecturers want to go back to college or university but the state of public health emergency that places restriction on public gathering will not allow them to. Government wants to consolidate the achievements it made under the ‘Agenda for Change’ by implementing the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’, but it cannot because of the epidemic. So everything relating to development is put on hold until the virus is defeated. So why can’t we take the fight serious as Sierra Leoneans who truly believe in the prosperity of Sierra Leone?
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