As the fight against Ebola intensifies in the country, the Office of the First Lady has strongly come out with response strategies through the Reproductive Health and Gender lens to help enhance and compliment government efforts to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone.
A meeting with key stake- holders from Government Ministries, and the International Organizations including UN Agencies and the Diplomatic Corps was convened in the office of the First Lady, to help promote the outlined strategies by the First Lady and to see how they can collaborate in the fight against Ebola.
The First Lady, Madam Sia Nyama Koroma, in her statement, said the main reason for targeting the Reproductive Health and Gender Lens is because, “the Ebola epidemic has a gender face, as since the outbreak, women are more affected as they are the primary care givers”.
She said women are more vulnerable to contact Ebola as the first primary contact of an infected person in homes, health centres and also as Traditional Healers and Birth Attendants.
Therefore the First Lady emphasized that Government together with their Development Partners should consider women who are in vulnerable areas by engaging them on sensitization programmes through their traditional and religious leaders in their local community, calling on all stakeholders involved to ensure the right information is being disseminated to avoid conflict of misinformation, Stigma, Phobia and Myths. The First Lady mentioned that one of the challenges faced in the fight against Ebola is Contact Tracing and case Identification information.
As a result of that, in her proposed strategy, the First Lady plans to engage the services of Sign Africa to develop a documentary advocacy screen support to educate people about the Ebola that will include survivors of Ebola.
Dr Lynda Foray and who has been working closely with the First Lady in the fight against Ebola said women’s health should be a paramount concern to all stakeholders involved in eradicating this deadly virus from Sierra Leone, as women are always victim of circumstances.
Dr Foray said the Ebola Virus disease formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, and often fatal illness in humans, maintaining that the disease has a case fatality of up to 90% but however mentioned with early detection and supportive treatment will increase chances of survival she added.
It is in light with this, she explained, the first lady has decided to be in fore front of the Ebola fight and to help women minimise their risk of getting infected.
The Deputy Secretary Mano River Union, Linda Koroma commended the First lady for her initiative as it is essential and timely but emphasised and pleaded with the first lady to pay more attention to the cross border points as it is where the disease emanated from. She noted that all cross border point should be monitored in order to ascertain who comes in and out of the country.
represented from UN women lauded the approach towards Reproductive Health and Gender Lens as it is an important sector and called on the Government to ensure they engage on a House to house census as to know how many women and children have been killed by the virus.
in support of the First Lady’s Strategy, the meeting was attended by wife of Vice President, Khadija Sam Sumana, Nigeria High Commissioner, wife of China’s Ambassador and other diplomatic personalities who commended the idea and gave their support to the first lady.
By Mariam Bah
Friday August 08, 2014