MRU To Host Extraordinary Summit To End Ebola

Sierra Leone’s President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and his Guinean counterpart Professor Alpha Conde Tuesday 10 February expressed the urgent need for an Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State of the Mano River Union in Conakry, Republic of Guinea to intensify the fight against Ebola and also assess the challenges facing the national and sub-regional dimensions of post-Ebola recovery programmes.

The two leaders took this position following the signing of a joint communique climaxing the one-day working and friendly visit of President Conde to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The Guinean leader is also the current Chair of the Mano River Union (MRU).

The purpose of the visit was essentially for the two leaders to engage in an exchange of ideas on the progress made and remaining challenges with respect to the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in the MRU basin.

President Alpha Conde and his host also noted the need to continue their social mobilization campaigns against cultural and traditional practices that have significantly undermined painstaking efforts by both governments and their development partners in breaking the chain of transmission of Ebola.

Furthermore, the two Heads of State described the continued stigmatisation of their nationals and consequently, the imposition of travel restrictions and suspension of flight services to the affected countries as a distraction to collective efforts in fighting the epidemic. Both presidents agreed that travel and other restrictions imposed on the three worst-hit countries should be reviewed without further delay.

In all of this one sees a clear path and determination to fend off and finally eradicate this dreadful disease. It also shows that African leaders are also anxious to tackle their problems head-on, especially following the signing of three separate joint communiques between Mauritania/African Union and GOSL; Togo/ECOWAS and GOSL and between GOSL and Guinea/MRU. All of these communiques tend toward one direction; to defeat Ebola and address post-Ebola socio-economic recovery. It shows the determination to utilize the double-edged nature of the Ebola outbreak.

Of course, there is no gainsaying about the fact that Ebola is a double-edged sword considering its ugly and positive side effects. Negative, because of its toll on not just the lives of our people but, also its devastating impact on our socio-economic, cultural and traditional practices. It has essentially robbed us of our humanity, an old man with great insight told me in Makeni.

But then the outbreak will end up helping to strengthen our health care delivery systems, it will engender massive awareness in personal hygiene and sanitation and also help to revamp the educational system as clearly mentioned in the presidential broadcast to the nation quite recently.

As he aptly observed during the ensuing press conference at the Presidential Lounge at the Lungi International Airport, President Koroma said that “Until Ebola is defeated in the three worst-hit countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, any national success will be less meaningful and less sustainable,”

This is why I also fervently and unflinchingly welcome the need to convene an Extraordinary Summit of MRU member states to consolidate efforts in the fight against Ebola and also drum up support for swift post-Ebola socio-economic recovery.

Jaramenajara©2015

LET’S ALL BE MONITORS OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE POST EBOLA RECOVERY PLAN

President Ernest Bai Koroma has called on the people of Tonkolili, Kambia and Port Loko districts to be monitors of the implementation of post Ebola recovery programmes launched by government with support from development partners to drive social and economic recovery over the next 6 – 9 months, putting Sierra Leone back on the Agenda for Prosperity pathway and move the country towards a resilient zero.

The president made this call over the weekend during his working visits to those districts to reiterate the message of vigilance to attain and maintain a resilient zero for 42 days after the last Ebola patient would have been discharged from treatment center. During the trip, the president also officially released the largest quarantined of homes, including a whole village – Massesebe in Tonkolili district.

According to President Koroma, government’s post Ebola recovery plan will target four major priority areas – health; education; social protection; and revamping the economy and livelihoods by facilitating private sector recovery and growth.

He informed the people that it was imperative that everyone monitors the implementation of post Ebola recovery programmes to ensure mutual accountability and transparency. This, he said, will help ensure service delivery is effective and maximizes the chances of beneficiaries receiving government’s support to restore livelihoods and enhance private sector recovery.

This latest call by the Head of State reechoes his keynote address during the formal launch of the Post Ebola Recovery “Battle” Plan at Miatta Conference Center, Brookfields on 24th July, 2015. He warned that “seeds must get to farmers; medicines to the sick, educational materials to the pupils.” He went on to note that the post Ebola recovery plan is to ensure that frontlines of the battle get far more of the resources than the backlines. “That must be the guiding principle, for that is what will get this country resilient and our people well-served,” he pointed out.

In view of this, the president disclosed that his next working visits will focus on conducted tours of services and support transferred to targeted beneficiaries to ensure efficiency and real time accountability in the implementation of the recovery plan.

“I call on everyone to get involved to help monitor the implementation of the recovery programme,” President Koroma who has been dubbed the chief social mobilizer, urged.

From the analysis by President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma (informed by the respective briefings of the different Ebola point men in the three districts), it’s quite clear that if the two remaining patients in treatment centers countrywide are discharged without any new positive case, Sierra Leone will soon begin the countdown towards a resilient zero for the next 42 days as stipulated by WHO. The call now is for all Sierra Leoneans to not just support, but also act as monitors of the recovery programmes in order to accelerate government’s quest for prosperity for all citizens.

The president was accompanied on this trip by the British High Commissioner Peter West, DFID Country Representative Marshall Elliot, the Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abu Bakarr Fofanah, the CEO of NERC Major (Rtd) Paolo Conteh, the UNMEER Crisis Manager Bintou Keita, the Special Adviser to the President and Ambassador at Large Professor Monty Jones, other senior government officials and State House staffers.