The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has assured Sierra Leone and its people of its continued support. The assurance was made during President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s recent visit to MSF office in Brussels, Belgium, where he engaged with the President and Directors of MSF Belgium and thanked them for their continued services to Sierra Leone.
MSF Belgium Medical Deputy Operations Coordinator for Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Mali, Dr. Ximena Moreno said the started operating in Sierra Leone in 1986, having embarked on lots of humanitarian work during the Cholera outbreak, and continued during the 11-year civil war, focusing on life-saving.
She said in 2009, they embarked on vaccination following the yellow fever outbreak in Bo and worked tirelessly during the Ebola outbreak in Kailahun, Bo, Kissi, Magburaka and Freetown.
She explained about the hospital in Hanga, Kenema district, where the team was providing urgent paediatric care to children under five years, noting that they had started constructing a new maternal department with two operating theatres for complicated deliveries and a neonatal unit.
She said that in Tonkolili, the MSF has focused on reducing maternal and child mortalities by supporting paediatric, maternal and neonatal and adolescent services.
His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio thanked the organisation for its over 36 years of distinguished service in Sierra Leone. The president said that his presence at their office was to convey his appreciation for the help and support rendered to the country, particularly during the civil war, Ebola and Covid 19 health disasters, adding that MSF had always been a prominent player in Sierra Leone.
He recalled that in 2014, during the Ebola outbreak in Kailahun, all the medical organisations pulled out of the districts and even repatriated their staff. He was amazed to learn that only the MSF stayed on, braved it and helped the people until the Ebola was contained.
President Bio revealed that he developed “a special liking for the MSF” at that time as “they stayed behind and fought for us.”
Referencing the teaching hospital in Kenema, President Bio commended the MSF as he appreciated their work globally and in Sierra Leone, in particular.
He assured MSF Belgium of his government’s support to ensure their good work continues in Sierra Leone.
The President of MSF Belgium, Fasil Tezera, welcomed President Bio and thanked him for his visit and the views expressed, while expressing honour for the president’s visit.
Mr. Tezera revealed that he visited Sierra Leone in 1996 as Head of Mission of the MSF, adding that he developed a special bond with Sierra Leone during the said visit. He disclosed that his institution is particular about neutrality and impartiality.
Concerning their operations and staff strength, he said they were operating in more than 39 countries with 110 projects in 2022, revealing further that MSF was working in more than 70 countries, with a staff strength of about 9,124 locally hired and 980 international mobile staff.