By Hassan Bruz (SLNA-Northern Bureau Chief)…
This was one of the key massages delivered to the People of Port Loko by Dr. Monica Musenero- the Leader of a Team of Consultants from Kenema that is currently in the District to help map out strategies through which Ebola related cases can be better handled. Dr. Monica – a Ugandan National, is said to be a Field Epidemiologist that has served in many outbreaks plus 5 Ebola Situations including the ongoing one in Sierra Leone. She is said to have structured the pattern in Kenema that has resulted to what can now be referred to as encouraging down scale of Ebola recorded cases in that part of the Country. Her team which comprises of the Provincial Security Coordinator–Mr. Joseph Bunting-Graden who is also the Chairman of the Kenema District Taskforce and Augustine Sannoh- the Logistics Chairman of the Kenema District Ebola Taskforce.
This Team is in the Northern District of Port Loko on the invitation of the District Ebola Taskforce in a bid to sort out ways for the scaling down of Ebola cases in this Area. I know you know too well than to be told that Port Loko is one of the Districts with a leading Ebola recorded cases. It is therefore a shameful fact that reasonable efforts should be done to reverse this scaring trend. Every well meaning Person especially Stakeholders are now compelled to ensure that the trend is reversed. This was emphasised by President Ernest Bai Koroma himself during his recent visit to the District.
Well the Team of Consultants was in Port Loko few days ago for a Leadership meeting which attracted the presence of the Northern Region Coordinator- Mr. M A Jalloh, the District Coordinator Hon. Raymond Kabia, the Port Loko District Council Chairman-Ahmid Munirr Fofana and the Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies. The meeting perused the characteristics of effective Leadership and the need for the establishment of certain Pillars that would enable the Taskforce to function well.
As outlined by the Port Loko District Taskforce Chairman -Mohamed Sheick Kargbo, there was an acute need to share with the Kenema experience on the fight against Ebola. He said it would be good for them to be properly guided on how to strengthen the existing structures and to conveniently team up with the newly established Command and Control Centre in the District. He was buttressed by both the Chairman of the Port Loko District Council- Ahmid Munirr Fofana, and Ebola Coordinator –Hon. Raymond Kabia who urged for ways through which the Structures so far set up by Government could be cascaded at Regional and District Levels.
The Team of Consultants was quick to note that there has been an immense leadership vacuum which has only been exposed by the Ebola Outbreak. It said there should in no way be any form of overlapping of functions between the District Taskforce and the Command and Control Centre; as the two bodies are supposed to complement the efforts of each other in the fight against the disease. According to Mr. Joseph Bunting- Graden, the Chairman of the Taskforce as in the case of other Chairman of any formidable Institution and Organisation should possess certain characteristics for effective leadership. He said Ebola emergency meetings require extraordinary measures and demands coordination together with Management skills. He said a Chairman ought to be passionate, selfless, disciplined, and courageous , adding that it should be one that has a spirit of team work. It was impressed on all those present that there should be time management in conducting meetings as well as a room for reviewing Progress Activities. Dr. Monica said a single case of an Ebola in a Locality is tantamount to an outbreak and that no excuse would be good enough for such an ugly development. She said ‘Time Management’ is critical in a fight like this, which is the more reason why Citizens must take proper control of the situation instead of basking on donor assistance.
At the end, some Pillars were confirmed including Case Management, Psychosocial and Support, Surveillance, Social Mobilisation, Logistics and Finance. The District Taskforce Chairman Mr. Mohamed Sheick Kargbo who wanted to decline the Position due to other official engagements, was prevailed upon to continue as he has been a very dedicated Chairman. One of the observations surfaced by the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of the North/Western Region –Mr. F U K Daboh, had to do with the abolition of the idea for the establishment of a Civil Defence Force as earlier proposed . He said that will not be entertained by the Police as it has the potential to create more security Problems.
Part of the Action Points adopted was that the Taskforce should set up a date wherein each Pillar should have a meeting of at most 2 hours with the Consultants, so as to better explain the roles and responsibilities of those Pillars.