''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 4

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Sunday August 17, 2014 - International broadcaster, the BBC joins national media in Sierra Leone to spread awareness on the deadly Ebola. A bold and innovative move and would want to see more broadcasters getting involved. Is the rat at State House losing the plot?The Director of BBC Global News, Peter Horrocks. He says he wants to see the BBC in action giving crucial information on the Ebola disease in languages the people understand.Dr Modupeh Cole...died while trying to win the battle against the Ebola scourge. RIP. We say - take the pressure off Kailahun and ask for help in setting up isolation and treatment wards in other parts of the country.

We are indeed happy to note the effort of a number of key journalists in the country to raise awareness on the deadly Ebola - a scourge that had never before hit our country, nor others in the neighbourhood like Guinea and Liberia and now Nigeria.

We have been informed that the smoke and mirrors rat of a President had called in members of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, SLAJ, to brief them on what his outfit intends to do to stem the ravaging tide of the deadly Ebola.

The latest that we have is that SLAJ has also initiated a fund that encourages members to chip in ensuring that all contributions are properly recorded and accounted for so that the organisation cannot be seen as just one of the many mushrooming fund-raising outfits. Some of these outfits while pretending to raise funds for the victims and the fight against the scourge have one and only one aim - to make money out of the misery of the suffering masses.

We are pleased to receive this note from the BBC headlined - BBC World Service Joins The Fight Against Ebola -

"The BBC World Service is to broadcast special Ebola updates which will air across BBC Africa language services on Wednesday and Fridays, its Director Peter Horrocks has announced. The broadcasts will begin today (Wednesday 13 August). The broadcasts will be produced by the BBC World Service in association with the BBC’s international development charity BBC Media Action.

They will be broadcast in the countries worst affected by the disease: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria – on the BBC’s English, French and Hausa services.

Other BBC Africa services Swahili, Somali and Kinyarwanda/Kirundi will also carry the broadcasts.

The BBC is also working with its FM radio partners to broadcast information about Ebola in other widely spoken local dialects: Liberian English in Liberia, Soussou in Guinea and Pidgin in Nigeria.

These updates will cover the basics of how the virus is contracted, the symptoms and what to do if people suspect they or someone close to them is affected. They will cover the latest expert advice and new developments, as well as debunking myths and rumours, and combating misinformation.

“As a trusted source of news in the affected regions, with millions of listeners, the World Service is ideally placed to bring the latest life-saving information to its audience"

We wish the BBC and its arm Media Action in Sierra Leone well.

As we continue to praise the health professionals and all those directly involved in taking care of the needs of the affected, we would urge the government of the rat to go back to the drawing board and draw up a plan that is not only realistic, but that is achievable - first in the short and immediate term and then in the medium and long term.

Whining about funds and having people and organisations pictured making a contribution to the government Ebola fund is a non-starter in the first place and we still condemn any such arrangement that would see organisations and individuals wanting to be seen in a queue making a contribution directly to the rat. Again we insist, this is a non-starter. What is needed is a special account that is in the public domain and in which all those who mean well for the country could make their contributions. Again as we have stated in the past when it comes to such matters, we need to see in place an accountable system that would not allow the rat to be a sole signatory to that account, nor do we want to see his cronies becoming co-signatories.

Browsing through some online outlets, we came across this from one of those dedicated to the whims and caprices of the rat - the New Citizen of one of his advisers I B Kargbo, former Information minister and who in one article on that website re-affirmed his dedication to the ideals of his great leader and helmsman, the rat -

"The Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay yesterday informed journalists at the usual Government press briefing that President Ernest Bai Koroma has ordered the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Leonard Balogun Koroma to immediately mobilize all Government utility vehicles for the fight against the Ebola virus until the ambulances ordered by Government arrive.

He said the vehicles would be used in the various Districts for surveillance and contact tracing adding that the President is very much concerned about the health of his people and called on all Ministries to release their utility vehicles for the campaign. According to Abdulai Bayraytay, Government is the only major contributor to the fight against the pandemic affirming that Government needs $24 million to address the epidemic and has so far disbursed about $13 million to end the plague. This simple diagram shows just how much pressure continues to be put on the facilities at Kailahun. We need more isolation and treatment wards that are professionally equipped to ease the mounting pressure on the MSF facility at Kailahun. Please consider the distances too and how difficult it would be to transport the afflicted. We call on the international community to help with mobile centres and staffing please.

According to the Outreach Coordinator, Government still has a funding gap of $18 million which he underscored would help to contain the virus and revealed that a team of doctors from the UK has arrived in Sierra Leone to assist in ending the pandemic and that the team has already been deployed to the Ebola Isolation Unit at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown. He underscored that Government is in dire need of professional health experts to train Sierra Leoneans on the disease and reiterated that Government is in need of all support it can marshal to end the pandemic informing that as from 12th August this year, the Ministry of Health has recorded 703 confirmed cases of Ebola, 259 deaths while 184 people have survived."

A careful study/analysis of this short but very informative article shows just what is wrong with the government's plan, if any to tackle the scourge that is laying waste the people hit by this scourge which hitherto was unknown in our part of the continent. Our fear is that once established across such a vast area, a long-term strategy must be adopted and centres created that would detect and treat all suspected cases. You do not order the Minister of Transport and Aviation to immediately mobilise all government vehicles.

This lays bare the smoke and mirrors tactics of a rat who as as clueless as he is mean and ignorant in the entire matter. When a government worth its salt declares an emergency like it was done by the rat, it goes without saying that all the resources of government are to be deployed and government vehicles are just a a wee bit of that move and so to write that the rat has ordered his henchman (third term advocate) Balogun Koroma to utilise government vehicles is to state the least, inane and shows that its all words and no action.

Now we come to the real interest of the rat and his cronies - what can be derived from all this that would grease the palms and pockets of those at the forefront of begging for money?

"According to the Outreach Coordinator, Government still has a funding gap of $18 million which he underscored would help to contain the virus and revealed that a team of doctors from the UK has arrived in Sierra Leone to assist in ending the pandemic and that the team has already been deployed to the Ebola Isolation Unit at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown. He underscored that Government is in dire need of professional health experts to train Sierra Leoneans on the disease and reiterated that Government is in need of all support it can marshal to end the pandemic informing..." and so on and so forth.

Kindly read again so that you can see quite clearly just how the figures refuse to add up. The government of the rat says its needs 24 million dollars and has so far disbursed thirteen million dollars. So what remains should be eleven million dollars not eighteen million. So what was the thirteen million dollars disbursed spent on - let's have a breakdown please.

So there is a funding gap of 18 million dollars. Ask the rat and his cronies how they arrived at this figure and you would be surprised - that it was plucked out of thin air to be increased as soon as the funds start flowing in. If this is a funding gap, what is the true figure that is needed and how much has government contributed in this fight apart from the rat daring to criticise the international community for not putting in the resources as fast as he would have wanted in what is an uncoordinated and unplanned grasping at straws campaign.

We are indeed saddened like many concerned Sierra Leoneans and friends of our great country to hear of the passing away of another top frontline doctor Dr Modupeh Cole in the fight against the Ebola scourge. Here's what the New York Times stated about this sad event under the headline Sierra Leone Again Loses a Top Doctor to Ebola - "A second leading Sierra Leone doctor has succumbed to the Ebola epidemic sweeping across West Africa, dealing another blow to the country’s faltering efforts to stem the disease. Dr. Modupeh Cole, 56, died Wednesday at the Ebola treatment center operated by Doctors Without Borders in the northeastern town of Kailahun, officials at the health ministry said. He had apparently been infected while seeing a patient at the country’s leading hospital, Connaught Hospital, here in the capital, officials said.

The patient later tested positive for Ebola. The loss of Dr. Cole was described as significant by health officials in a country with a severe shortage of well-trained doctors, especially coming two weeks after the death of Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, the virologist who was leading the fight against the disease in eastern Sierra Leone, where it has flourished. Dr. Cole “was a highly qualified physician, and we have very few of them on hand,” said Dr. Amara Jambai, director of prevention and control at the health ministry. “You can imagine what this does to the younger cohort.

It’s like having a general falling in battle. It just brings more misery. It’s not good. When you have a health system that’s constrained, it’s a bit too much.” Connaught, where Dr. Cole worked, is Sierra Leone’s leading referral hospital, so Ebola patients inevitably go there, initially at least. But it does not have a treatment center for them or an isolation ward. It was one such patient who apparently passed the deadly disease to the doctor. “He was trying to see a patient, and the patient was falling,” Dr. Jambai said. “The patient was trying to help himself to the couch, and the patient fell.” The patient was positive for Ebola, he added.

The Freetown-based AWOKO newspaper had this report on the death of Dr Cole -

"The Co-ordinator of the Ebola Isolation Centre at Connaught Hospital Dr.Modupeh Cole died early yesterday morning after testing positive for Ebola. The Senior Physician Specialist who died at the Kailahun hospital where he was undergoing treatment is the second senior doctor to have died of the dreaded disease. The first was Dr. Umarr Khan who was the country’s only specialist in haemorrhagic fever who died of the disease about three weeks ago. Now, another health worker has also lost his life while his house remains quarantined at Syke Street.

When contacted on the phone, the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo weeping profusely said that it was unfortunate that his best friend had to die like this. “Yes, Dr. Cole is dead but in his memory we must carry on this battle and win for their sake because it could happen to anybody especially health workers who are in the forefront of the battle. One small mistake and you could be infected. So everybody should take serious precautions to avoid being hit by the deadly scourge,” he said. The shock of his death outweighed the announcement of his being positive announced last week and many now fear the virus battle is far from over."One of the many remote villages to be covered if the Ebola virus is to be defeated.

And this unfortunate incident brings us to what the authorities refuse to acknowledge, wishing away the practical things that must be done if the contagion is to become a thing of the past. Consider if you will something in this report from the New York Times. "Connaught, where Dr. Cole worked, is Sierra Leone’s leading referral hospital, so Ebola patients inevitably go there, initially at least. But it does not have a treatment center for them or an isolation ward."

That is the crux of the matter - something the authorities need to act on fast, very fast. There's no treatment centre nor an isolation ward at the main referral hospital Connaught. Now here comes in the logistics.

When Dr Khan contracted the disease in Kenema in the east of the country, he was taken to Kailahun in the far east of Sierra Leone where the international health group MSF have set up isolation wards as well as treatment centres. This clearly points to the fact that what is needed in the main cities and towns of Sierra Leone are isolation wards and treatment centres staffed by people who are adequately protected by being given the right protective gear as they have in the Kailahun isolation wards and treatment centres.

How do you get confirmed cases to Kailhaun given the poor transportation system that we have at the moment?

Why should they all be taken to Kailahun?

Why cant the government of the rat request for these facilities as a matter of urgency and top priority instead of loading and clogging the facilities at Kailahun?

We would suggest that the international community help set up these testing, isolation and treatment centres as soon as possible so that the pressure of the MSF facilities in Kailahun would be eased.

This we believe would raise the confidence of the public and hence would make them brave enough to report any suspected cases because they would then know they do not have to wait to be taken to Kailahun. We say this because of our fear that by the time they get there, their condition would have deteriorated very rapidly with the results we always dread - as we witnessed in the matter of Dr Khan and Dr Cole, two of the leading doctors in the fight against the Ebola disease.


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