Help Underway for Sierra Leone

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One of the notable heroes (front-liners) who have contributed immensely toward putting Liberia in a comfortable lead in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, Representative Saah Joseph, is at the brink of taking the Liberian experience to neighboring Sierra Leone where the virus is still wreaking havoc.

Sierra Leone, for the past few months, has claimed global attention with resurgence of Ebola cases as many continue to fall prey to the virus. The Sierra Leonean government has been criticized, especially internally, for not doing much to contain the virus, while others have blamed the resurgence in cases on traditional practices.

Latest reports suggest that Sierra Leone is poised to overtake Liberia in terms of the rate of infections and casualties, a situation the international community and other observers describe as appalling and disheartening.

The Sierra Leonean government, however, was constrained, prior to the festive season, to issue strong warnings banning all festive activities in that country.  This, that government said, was in an effort to adequately contain the Ebola outbreak.

It is to buttress this effort that the Liberian Legislator and healthcare provider, Rep. Joseph, has taken upon himself to give a helping hand to Sierra Leone. He has been one of those who, early during the heat of the Ebola crisis, volunteered with his ambulance and team of health workers to shuttle Ebola suspects and patients to treatment centers. 

Rep. Joseph, during a visit with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Thursday, said that as a humanitarian, his conscience is deeply urging him to carry the Liberian experience in the combat against the virus to Sierra Leone.  He had gone to meet the Liberian leader and seek her blessing as he and his team cross border into that sisterly state.

The Montserrado County lawmaker is expected to go with a team of twenty, along with three ambulances to bolster the Sierra Leonean effort against the Ebola epidemic there.  They were expected to leave yesterday, but are now required to sort some basic things out before leaving shortly.

President Sirleaf wholeheartedly lauded the lawmaker for his brilliant initiative which she said will go a long way in eradicating the virus from the region. She promised to assist in whatever way she can to make his mission a success.

The Liberian government has received several global applauds for its measures toward tackling the virus in the country, with some calling on neighboring affected countries to emulate Liberia’s example. United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, recently called on Guinea and Sierra Leone to liaise with Liberia and learn how the country has drastically dealt with the virus with such success.

A Cross-border collaboration on prevention of the Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa recently ended in Monrovia after delegates shared experiences and pertinent information on how to defeat the virus from the West African sub-region, especially the Mano River Union on a more unified front.  This is the approach that Liberia is now taking through Rep Saah Joseph.

That meeting brought together several national leaders on the Ebola response from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria and host Liberia, who brainstormed, shared ideas and experiences on how to prevent the further spread of the virus and finally eradicate it from the sub-region.

It was organized by the Liberian Government and the United Nations Mission for the Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium. 

The Monrovia Technical Meeting came up with recommendations and commitments which would be endorsed at a summit meeting of regional Heads of State later in December 2014.

Delegates examined key issues in the cross-border transmission of the virus and sought to create opportunities for closer cooperation between the affected countries and the Ebola response.

Special presentations by the heads of delegation of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali were made coming up with the epidemiological situation report, strategy for controlling Ebola virus disease transmission, cross border strategy and intervention for Ebola virus disease control, amongst others.

A special presentation on “getting to zero” with emphasis on lessons from Nigeria’s response was made by the delegation from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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