Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAAFS) in collaboration with the umbrella body of the Agricultural private sector, SLeCAD, is presently mobilizing resources to assist in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.
According to the Minister of MAFFS, Dr. Sam Sesay, who also doubled as the Chairman of the meeting at the Ministry’s conference hall, yesterday, maintained that the essence of the meeting is not only to update the private sector about the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, but to also hear from them about their own experience and challenges faced, as a result of the outbreak, and to see how they can help Government in the fight against Ebola, so that things can return to normal for everyone.
The Minister disclosed that because of the lack of knowledge about the Ebola virus, people find it very difficult to understand how its operates, which was why most people when it started in the Eastern Region in Kailahun District, related it to some witchcraft and decided to visit traditional healers for cure, complemented with the high level of denial, which led to its spreading all over the country, explaining that when you look at the map of the Ebola, it shows that it is because of the movement of people that led to its movement from one area to the other.
He stated that initially when the disease broke out, the Government did not know how to handle it, as it is new to everyone and that the health system was not well prepared in a robust way to handle it, adding that at the time of the outbreak, most of the Farmers were at the initial stage of their farming in May, which has affected the basic local food production as many of the farmers are afraid of contacting the disease as Kailahun and Kenema are the main source of their export produce such as Cocoa and Coffee, which means that all their gains made in the previous years had been shattered by the Ebola epidemic.
According to the Minister, the challenges faced by the Ebola survivors are that, for the male, the virus will stay in the sex organ for a period of three months and for the female, it will stay in their breast which indicates that survivors must be monitored, so that they will not infect their partners. He also said that the logistical aspect including Ambulance, contact tracers and even members of the burial teams are being discriminated against together with their family members by the communities,while people have lost confidence in the health sector which is why they are not going to the hospital even for other illnesses.
Representing SLeCAD, the Executive Secretary of the organization, Ahmed Nanoh, expressed thanks and appreciation to the Minister for the update and disclosed that they had already held similar meetings with their membership in the private sector, as they have even started collecting monies from members which they intend to bring to the Minister for handing over to President Koroma, as their own little support.
This statement led to the revelation of many things which prompted the Minister to set up a steering committee that will co-ordinate the collection of donation before the end of business on Tuesday, so that the presentation will be done before the shut-down.
Friday September 12, 2014