Members of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Human Rights Committee in Kenema district has vowed to stage a peaceful procession on Friday 25th of July 2014, as a way of mourning for the dead victims of Ebola in the country.
Speaking to the press at the Provincial Secretary’s office along Maxwell Khobe street in Kenema, one of the leaders of the group, Lahai Galiwa, said nothing will stop them going ahead with what they have planned.
He says as members of the civil society and Human Right Committees, representing the people, they plan to issue a press release, engage the radio stations which they have done and now the peaceful procession that is scheduled for Friday, as a way of showing their concerns for prompt action by the newly-appointed Resident minister (east) Maya Kaikai, who is their brother in the region. The Minister is expected to resume work in Kenema on Friday.
He says before now they have held a dialogue with the AIG east, Alfred Karrow Kamara about their intention for which he gave his blessings. And that after their radio discussion on Thursday morning 24th July 2014 on Eastern Community Radio, they met the AIG for the second time for the intended parade, but the AIG had changed his previous pronouncement to them by denying them permission to carry out the peaceful procession.
The team then proceeded to the Provincial Secretary’s office with the same intention and they were first engaged by the Senior District Officer who told them that they will not be allowed to process, alleging that they have had intelligence that people are planning to burn down the Government hospital, and that if they go ahead with their procession and anything goes wrong, they will be held responsible.
The CSOs agreed to take any responsibility and that nothing will stop them to go ahead with their peaceful procession, adding that all of them will be dressed in black.
Some of the concerns raised in the press release include that there is a complete breakdown of the hospital management in Kenema and that Medical Superintendent Dr. Pratt is not always reporting for duty and it is alarming, and some doctors like Dr. Farma, Dr. Musa and Dr. Grant have taken French leave.
The lack of remedial and re-orientation emergency and training for nurses, especially on best practices of the use of protective gears at the Ebola management units.
The unjustifiable distribution of resources in the fight against Ebola by Government (Ref. the press release issued by Government on 26th June 2014 for local councils use of the DSDP funds to support Ebola prevention activities: while international partners, some corporate bodies and individuals have made specific financial contributions towards Ebola prevention and management which has not reached the locations most affected. This aspect needs better clarifications for public consumption.
The Ministry of Health management of Ebola is fundamentally failing and there is urgent need for the ministry to review its approach and demonstrate strong leadership commitments in the fight against the Ebola virus.
We have also observed that there is blatant disconnect of the District Taskforce and the National Taskforce for relevant, appropriate and timely action in the fight against Ebola.
Although the civil society organizations appreciates the effort of President Koroma in the fight against the Ebola virus in the country, however, we as civil society are equally disappointed and cannot understand why the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has refused to visit the eastern region, since the outbreak of Ebola in May this year, even though Government nurses and volunteers continue to die while serving the nation.
In line with this, the CSOs recommend that all citizens of Sierra Leone accept that Ebola is a real disease, but it can be prevented, as we follow the prevention education strategies as directed by our health professionals.
The government should also consider the re-location of the Ebola management unit away from the Kenema government hospital and to be managed by the MSF team in collaboration with the DHMT.
We want to recommend cordial and productive working relationship between the Ebola national and regional taskforce for effective collaborative actions in the fight against Ebola.
Government to hurriedly improve on health workers welfare, including increment in the remuneration/salary or allowances, provision of more efficient protective clothing for health service workers, especially those attached to the Ebola management center and Government should localize the education and prevention drives on Ebola, through support to our local councils, ward committees, women’s groups, CBOs, traditional healers, paramount chiefs, teachers, Journalists, and local musicians who are resident on the ground to take lead in the Ebola sensitization in local communities.
The civil society and Human Rights committee expressed condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives, and breadwinners to Ebola virus, especially our gallant health workers who have died honourably for the sake of humanity.
Meanwhile, the Regional Police Commander east, Alfred Karrow Kamara AIG has sent a public notice to the various radio stations in the city, banning public procession and demonstration quoting the Public Order Act No.46 of 1965.
By: Saffa Moriba
Friday July 25, 2014