AYV newspaper has made several attempts to get officials of the health sector including the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and his deputy to speak to the people of Sierra Leone on the position of the country’s health sector should there be any eventuality but all efforts prove futile on all appointments.
However, this medium caught up with Kwame Yankson, Director of Human Resource at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. He informed that the ministry is on top of situation and that talks with parliament in relation to the preparedness are ongoing.
Also, in similar development, the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has conducted a two-day simulation exercise in Freetown to test the armed forces’ preparedness in containing the event of any Ebola eventuality in the country. This was done due to the fact that the Ebola disease has reared its head in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR). This is the ninth time Ebola is hitting the DCR.
The medical unit of the RSLAF set up what they call a Rapid Deployable Isolation and Treatment Facility at Wilberforce Barracks in the capital.
As part of the exercise, nurses in protective clothing simulated the treatment of incoming Ebola patients using the Zmapp drug.
Dr. Steven Sibalie, one of the exercise coordinators, said the simulation was not related to the Ebola outbreak in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), although the news there had spread “some anxiety” amongst Sierra Leoneans.
It could be recalled that almost 4,000 people died in Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016 during an Ebola outbreak that spread across four countries and the World health Organization (WHO) and local authorities came under criticism for not reacting fast enough to contain the disease.
Brigadier General Professor Foday Sahr, the Surgeon General of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Joint Medical Unit, said he wanted to ensure that doctors and nurses were competent in the use of Zmapp so that potential outbreaks could be contained.
The simulation exercise took place as the WHO prepares to hold an Emergency Committee meeting to advise on the international response to the outbreak in DRC, and decide whether it constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern”.
It can be recalled that in 2014 the epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone, along with neighbouring countries of Guinea and Liberia few years after it was first reported in the same Democratic Republic of Congo which was where it was discovered.
Health Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oly Ilunga Kalenga has confirmed a case in Mbandaka, a city of a million people about 130km (80 miles) from the area where the first cases were confirmed earlier this month. The city is a major transportation hub with routes to the capital Kinshasa.
He said forty-four people have been infected and 23 people are known to have died of the virus.
The 2014-16 West Africa outbreaks, which killed 11,300 people, was particularly deadly because it spread to the capital cities of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Senior World Health Organization (WHO) official Peter Salama said the spread to Mbandaka meant there was the potential for an “explosive increase” in cases.
Mr. Salama, the WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said Mbandaka’s location on the Congo river, widely used for transportation, raised the prospect of Ebola spreading to surrounding countries such as Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic as well as downstream to Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people.
“This puts a whole different lens on this outbreak and gives us increased urgency to move very quickly into Mbandaka to stop this new first sign of transmission,” he said.