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

International community extols president’s social mobilization drive against Ebola

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this morning Sierra Leone as Ebola free at a colourful and well attended ceremony at the Bintumani International Conference Centre at Aberdeen in Freetown.

The ceremony was attended by cabinet ministers, members of parliament, senior government officials, traditional leaders, members and Dean of the diplomatic and consular corps, the media as well as ordinary Sierra Leoneans, including survivors of the evil virus called Ebola.

However, this event could not have come without a price in terms of collateral damage as thousands of Sierra Leoneans, over 200 health workers and 11 doctors lost their lives to the disease.

Furthermore, President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma’s nationwide social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola made considerable progress to break the chain of transmission of the disease.

The significance of his nationwide social mobilization tours stem from the fact that paramount chiefs, religious leaders, MPs, traditional and cultural society heads, Councilors and other stakeholders accepted and believed his message that they shoulder the responsibility of driving the Ebola virus out of their communities. It was this social mobilization by the president that turned out to be the game changer in the fight to eradicate Ebola from Sierra Leone, and consequently the WHO declaring the country as Ebola free today Saturday 7 November, 2015.

A number of diplomats have commended the efforts of President Koroma in his social mobilization drive for community involvement and ownership of the fight against Ebola culminating to the end of the outbreak today.

Please read below the testimonies of some of our development partners as well as the CEO of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC):

State House Communication Unit:

QUESTION – Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO), what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?


British High Commissioner Peter West – ANSWER:
I am full of admiration for President Koroma’s leadership and I think an outstanding aspect of that leadership has been his work on social mobilization. From the onset, I knew that President Koroma believes that without the cooperation and understanding of the people of Sierra Leone we will not be able to overcome the disease. Over many months I have travelled with him to every district in this country. In some cases, more than half a dozens times to problematic districts. I have seen him explained, persuade, cajoled and insist on people doing the right things to end the transmission chains. In his recent tours, I have seen his emphasis on building from the lessons we have learnt during Ebola so that Sierra Leone emerges stronger and more resilient with structures which are able to provide the services which the people of Sierra Leone deserve.

As we get to zero plus forty-two, I am proud that the UK along with other international partners has been able to play a full part in this fight against Ebola. But most of all, I want to congratulate President Koroma on a job very well done.

QUESTION 2: Moving forward, you have been very supportive of government’s action in stemming the virus, what areas do you think government should strengthen to equip the response for future outbreaks?

Peter West – ANSWER: I think it’s very important people learnt lessons from this episode. There is more capacity and more qualified people now to deal with this sort of crisis in the future. I think it is important also we embrace those people and those institutions so that there is a stronger structure to deal with this crisis in the future. And I think now in the next few years we are working very closely with President Koroma and his government on a recovery package on six specific areas which the government has set out and to make sure that the country develops and returns to the ambitions set out in the Agenda for Prosperity.

Discussion with WHO Representative – Dr Andres Nordstrom

State House Communication Unit –

QUESTION: Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization, what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?

Dr Andres Nordstrom – ANSWER: I think the socio mobilization part of the response possibly has been most important and critical element because not until we really began to reach out to people to engage them, to communicate with the people that we can see the difference. Because we need the people to fully engage and fully also to trust and to also change some of the behaviours. So I think the social mobilization the president has been providing leadership for has been extremely important for this outbreak. I think there is a good platform; there is a lot of good experience and resources reaching out to people in communities that we need to build on to tackle other health problems in the future.

State House Communication Unit

– QUESTION: Dr Nordstrom, how would you describe the leadership of President Koroma?

Dr Andres Nordstrom – ANSWER:
He is really a leader that is providing both inspiration and leadership but also is a person that stays very calm and somebody also you both feel trust with and somebody who you can like as well.

Interview with CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh

State House Communication Unit –

QUESTION: Ahead of Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free by the WHO, what is your assessment of President Koroma’s social mobilization drive in the fight against Ebola?

CEO NERC – ANSWER: I think the president’s own contribution particularly in the area of social mobilization was key to the fight. I say so for two reasons because in terms of social mobilization it is not only about the message, it is about who carries the message – the messenger – and in President Koroma you have a good messenger because when he speaks people listen. People are drawn to him. So his contribution in my view was immense and I think it helped. He took the message to every district and I was with him.

He went around the country; spoke to paramount chiefs, religious leaders, tribal heads and so on. So I will say his contribution was immense in particularly social mobilization, getting the message to people to listen and do the right things.

SHCU©2015