Discharge of last Ebola Patient: the countdown begins in earnest

As implementation of Post Ebola recovery programmes gathers momentum, government is set to begin the countdown towards a resilient zero on Tuesday 25th August.

Mateneh Ebola treatment center is located on the outskirts of Makeni city. It was constructed by the British Army with funding from Department for International Development (DFID) during the height of the epidemic in 2014 and is being run by the International Medical Corps (IMC). Since then the center has admitted a total of 108 patients with 45 survivors.

The last Ebola test result for female patient Adama Sankoh came out negative and she was officially discharged by His Excellency, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma today (Monday 24 August), marking the beginning of the countdown towards a resilient 42 days without a positive case.

Steven Gaojia of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) described the discharge of the last EVD patient as a significant milestone in the fight against Ebola as well as the countdown towards a resilient zero.

Delivering the keynote address, President Koroma described the discharge of Adama Sankoh as the last remaining patient nationwide as the beginning of the end of Ebola in Sierra Leone. He said that the outbreak was announced 456 days ago. “Before we get to 42 days, we must stay the course and remain vigilant,” he urged.

The president called on the people of Sierra Leone to continue to call 117 when someone is sick. “It’s a moment we should celebrate and we have to give thanks to Almighty God that we have reached this point,” adding that we should remember the over 3, 500 citizens who had succumbed to the disease in our prayers.

President Koroma also lauded the efforts and support of development partners, health workers, including doctors in the fight to end the outbreak. He also commended NERC and the various DERCs across the country as well as the police, RSLAF, political parties, religious bodies, traditional leaders and all Sierra Leoneans who in diverse ways contributed to the fight against EVD.

Giving the vote of thanks, Adama Sankoh prayed for President Koroma for long life and good health for his personal leadership of the fight against the receding virus. She also thanked the Mateneh treatment center for their tireless efforts to ensure she survives EVD, adding that she will be the number one messenger to sensitize her people that although Ebola is on the run, vigilance should be the watchword.

Adama called on all citizens to continue to observe health measures of hand washing, safe burial among others. She pleaded with government not to forget Ebola survivors as most of them are now very vulnerable in terms of economic wellbeing.

The discharge and certification ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers, senior government officials, development partners, journalists and stakeholders of Bombali and Tonkolili districts.

By Jarrah Kawusu-Konte

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