In her presentation at a 3-day symposium at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University on Thursday with the title “The Ebola Outbreak: Challenges and Next Steps For the Future”, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Health Minister posits that the country’s post Ebola rebuilding effort will be bigger than that of the concluded eleven years civil war.
Madina Rahman said: “Our people are faced with stigmatization, symptoms such as Insomnia, Anemia, visual impairment, psychological impairment, orphans, high rate of teenage pregnancy, low educational levels, and trauma. We need to take care of them and provide survivors clinic, strengthening of our healthcare systems and regularize the general system to prevent future occurrences.
She updated participants at the meeting with statistics of infected persons in Sierra Leone for a reasonable period in line with that of CDC, USAID, MSF and other major stakeholders present and consistent in decline.
She likened the Sierra Leonean situation to that of a neighboring fire which started in a house and ended up engulfing an entire community.
“We were shocked, traumatized and unfamiliar with Ebola. When the help we sought never came, our President transformed institutions into hospitals with our own resources.
Our police training school and other dilapidated buildings were refurbished and used as holding and treatment centers which up to date are 100% manned by nationals and account for 65-70% survival rate when cases are presented early.
“The Sierra Leone government bought ambulances and burial vehicles. We were having one, we now have one hundred and fifty; from one, we now have eleven functional laboratories; from one holding center, we now have thirty holding centers around the country.”
According to Dr. Dennis Carroll Director for Global Health Security and Development (USAID) “the World faces the largest epidemic in history that can only be compared to that of 1917 Influenza epidemic which struck the United States immediately after the World War I. Without air transportation at that time, it quickly spread across boundaries to Europe and Africa.
“There was no preparation for Ebola outbreak of this magnitude,” he added. “No Country was prepared for it but USAID and other US government staff, coupled with its international partners, are committed to combating the crisis.”
“Our future steps is to ensure a no reported case, then the United States will take the lead again to rally global allies to assess and evaluate the damage, capacitate personnel and help rebuild health systems, invest in health facilities, staff and equipment that will enable affected countries forestall any future shock.”
Organized by the United Nations Association of the United States, the program was moderated by Ron Waldman PhD, Professor Department of Global Health, George Washington University, while Lynn R. Goldman MD, MSMPH gave the welcome address.
Other speakers include Robert Sorenso Deputy Director of the international Health and Biodefense office, Karyn Kendal Deputy Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also in attendance were Hon. Elizabeth Johnson Sirleaf Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia and Mrs. Isatu Sillah minister Counselor, Embassy of Sierra Leone.
On Wednesday, Ms Rahman had briefed staff of the Embassy of Sierra Leone about the previous and current state of affairs in Sierra Leone.
She reiterated President Ernest Koroma’s commitment to develop Sierra Leone and restore its glory, and assured all that Ebola will surely end in Sierra Leone.
Responding, Minister Counselor Mrs. Sillah said the Embassy became active in pursuit of Ebola ever since it was confirmed in Sierra Leone. The Embassy immediately set up a task force, to help coordinate affairs of the diaspora and said the embassy had facilitated a reasonable quantum shipment of personal protective equipment’s to Sierra Leone.
The emergence of Ebola immediately saw Ambassador Bockari Stevens waiving visa fees for all health officials going to help fight Ebola resulting in the issuance of more than six hundred gratis visa to personnel from Partners in Health in Boston Massachusetts, Medicines Sans Frontiers in New York, Center for Control Disease (CDC) Georgia Atlanta and Red cross in Canada since August 2014.
Meanwhile, Stevens and his Liberian counterpart have returned from an Ebola academic exercise, which saw them in turns not only appraising the academics on the current states of affairs, but also addressing pertinent issues relating to Post Ebola era.