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Health Minister Presents Status Update on Ebola Outbreak
The two-man delegation to the Extra Ordinary Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, held in Accra, Ghana have returned home after the presentation of the status update on the Sierra Leone Ebola outbreak.
The two- man team include head of the delegation and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Dr. Samura Kamara, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah joined by the Sierra Leone High commissioner to Ghana His Excellency Osman Foday Yansaneh.
The meeting noted that in March 2014, the rapidly evolving outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was experienced in Guinea and the outbreak subsequently spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Mali, ravaging parts of West Africa as the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modem times.
The meeting further noted that the epidemic is evolving in a context of chronic fragility with high poverty, high market dependency, poor crop yields, and low indicators. A situation described as complex by the continued fragility, following decades of conflict and civil strife which demands urgent attention.
Making his presentation on the status update on the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah told his audience that in March 19, 2014 Sierra Leone through the World Health Organization (WHO) received news of the outbreak in the neighboring Guinea, describing it as a mysterious illness, and confirmed in March 20, 2014 as the Ebola Virus Disease.
Sierra Leone in its Preparedness Plan, Dr. Fofanah said, formed a National Task Force on Ebola, chaired by the Minister of Health and Sanitation comprising top Ministry of Health officials, Health Development partners, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, DIFID, EU, AFDB, Civil society groups and International and Local Non- governmental organizations active in the health sector.
He said the Preparedness Plan included setting up of Technical Sub-Committees of the National Task Force on Ebola which includes Coordination, headed by the Chief Medical Officer, Communication by the Health Education Program Manager, Surveillance and Laboratory by the Director of Drugs and Medical Supplies.
Commenting on political decisions that are related to the control of the disease, the minister underscored the importance of the Ministries of Health, Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Trade and Industry, Transport and Aviation, Local Government, Information and Communications, and Gender and Children Affairs, as members of the Inter Ministerial Committee.
He dilated on Resource Mobilization, Sensitization, Surveillance, the ban on cross border movement of corpses, erection of screening posts, monitoring, including other activities mounted on May 24, 2014 when the first laboratory case of Ebola was confirmed, and declared an outbreak in May 25, 2014, which urges the ministry and government to urgently switched over from Preparedness Plan to what he described as Full Blown Response Mode.
The major intervention undertaken by the government, the Minister said, include intensified surveillance system, case search, contact tracing, ban on social gathering, closure of schools, and all learning institutions, capacity building and training on various aspects of the disease, a strong message by the President to the populace, and the securing of government’s funds and commitment to the tune of Le14 Billion Leones within weeks of the outbreak among other interventions, followed by the setting up of a Presidential Task Force.
Issues and challenges related to the containment of the disease, Constraint analysis and Designed strategies around those constraints, the Road to achieving overall objective on the current status of the epidemic in terms of total number of cases, cumulative deaths and cumulative discharged of survivors formed part of the Minister’s presentation.
The Sierra Leone delegation after a closed door session on the presentations and consideration of the Memorandum of the Commission on the situation of the Ebola pandemic in the sub region also signed the Final Communiqué of the Summit.