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The Ebola recurrence: who is fooling who?

The Ebola recurrence: who is fooling who?

The announcement of the recurrence of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Northern Region of Sierra Leone by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) a fortnight ago has sparked serious debate among Sierra Leoneans over the veracity of another outbreak.  The country was declared Ebola-free on Saturday, 7th November, 2015, and the recent announcement of another outbreak in the Northern Region seems to have stolen the happiness of Sierra Leoneans, who are yet to recover from the traumas of the disease and its devastating impact on our national economy during the first outbreak.

The swift move by Government to stem the EVD from spreading last week led to serious confrontation between SLP personnel and residents of Barmoi Luma, Magbema Chiefdom in the Kambia where the first suspected Ebola death reportedly contacted the virus and later travelled to Tonkolili District where she eventually died. Three civilians were reported shot by OSD personnel, several others seriously injured while others fled into the bush when they insisted that the township should not be quarantined and that normal business which is their only source of livelihood should not be stopped as ordered by the police and local authorities.

Though tension between the police and civilians in Barmoi Luma may have died down, yet most Sierra Leoneans do not believe that there is any recurrence of Ebola despite it has been authoritatively announced by WHO and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS). For instance, in his contribution in the well of Parliament last Tuesday, the Paramount Chief Representative in Parliament for Koinadugu District, Hon. PC Kasanga Kanagbaro III, argued that there is no Ebola in his district and that the first suspected Ebola death in the district as announced by WHO and MoHS did not die of the wicked virus as those who prepared the body for burial are still alive and kicking after two weeks of the incident. He also informed Parliament that when he was travelling to Freetown he saw the women dancing and one of them promised to compose a song about it. The Paramount Chief Representative also quoted the doctor-in-charge of the 34 Military Hospital at Wilberforce Barracks that the second suspected Ebola case that was hospitalized there is responding to treatment that is not related to any Ebola.

Also, the founder and former Chairman and Leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Party, Mohamed Bangura, who has now declared for the governing All People’s Congress (APC) Party, said in the Wake Salone morning programme on AYV TV last Thursday that the recurrence of Ebola in Sierra Leone as announced by WHO and the Health Ministry is an “international conspiracy” designed by international partners to continue benefiting from the scourge much to the detriment of the country and people. He accused the international community of doing little or nothing to contain the disease during its outbreak in May 2014, adding that they came in the name of experts and were paid huge amounts of money for doing sweet nothing. The controversial politician therefore called on fellow Sierra Leoneans not to allow the international partners this time around to hold us to ransom.

Similar sentiments are being expressed by many Sierra Leoneans very critical of the recurrence of the pandemic announced by WHO and the Health Ministry over two weeks ago, including the aggrieved residents of Barmoi Luma that burnt the police post over Ebola restrictions stopped the border market (Luma) from holding. The people of Tonkolili District through their Paramount Chief Representative in Parliament have challenged the Ebola case.

Since many Sierra Leoneans are very much doubtful of the Ebola recurrence in the country, including some opinion leaders in governance, it is about time WHO and the Government came out with a public statement with confirmed medical proofs that the first suspected Ebola death in Tonkolili District is no international conspiracy but a reality that should not be doubted by anyone.

Though the two APC politicians who have challenged the new Ebola case have no medical backgrounds, yet both are opinion leaders and there are thousands of people out there who would be persuaded by their stance on the Ebola recurrence to believe that there is no Ebola in the country. That is why Government should speedily react to the challenge of Hon. Paramount Chief Kanagbaro Kasanga III and Mohamed Bangura that there is no recurrence of Ebola in the country.

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