By Hassan Bruz…(SLENA- Northern Bureau Chief)
The Chief Executive Officer at the National Ebla Response Centre [NERC] –Retired Mayor Parlo Conteh has stressed the need for more stringent measures to be adopted in ensuring that the spread of the Ebola virus is nabbed and completely eradicated from the Port Loko District. He made the statement during his recent visit to the District which was necessitated by the last set of New Ebola cases.
For those of you who have been following my posts on Ebola related issues, you would recall that the Northern District of Port Loko has had a leading number of Ebola cases in the Country. As a result of both the immense pressure from no less a person than President Koroma himself and the concerted efforts of all Stakeholders, the District made an impressive u- turn. It completed its first set of 21 Days and was almost close to the final lap of the second set of 21 consecutive days, when some unfortunate thing occurred.
According to the Coordinator of the Port Loko District Ebola Response Centre- Hon. Raymond Kabia, the setback started with the case of one Madam Kadie Yeabu Kamara who fell sick at Manni Curve in the Magbma Chiefdom, and died of Ebola in Kaffu Bullom in the Port Loko District where she was conveyed by her children for treatment. He informed the Chief Executive Officer that, the District has since recorded a total of 5 Ebola cases though some Laboratory results have been challenged for the conflicting manner in which they were presented..
In a special briefing, the Head of Command and Control Centre in Port Loko –Phil Weatherill explained some of the efforts made to get at the zero target and the constraints the Centre is faced with in trying to free the baby whose mother died just after delivery at No. 9 Water Street in Lungi. He said even though the essence is to free child from possible infection as the Home was under quarantine status, yet the Locals have vehemently opposed the idea. He disclosed plans to divide the Inmates into smaller units and relocate some to No. 99 Main Airport Ferry Road, adding that the Paramount Chief has already started identifying Houses within the Chiefdom for the purpose. He spoke of the apparent security lapses at the various Ebola Check Points and the Secret Burials as some of the crucial challenges they are faced with in combating Ebola in the District.
Responding to the reports presented to him, the Chief Executive Officer said, the National Ebola Response Centre has closely been following the developments in the Port Loko District with delight especially. He said they highly impressed when the District had gone through the first 21 Days of no Ebola Case and were even half way to the end of the second set of 21 consecutive days. He said even though NERC is saddened by this ugly development, yet he was there to give them a ‘perch on the back’ for having gone that much far. The Chief Executive Officer said, the various Stakeholders did well and that it is pointless for them to be dampened by that, rather they should forge ahead with the good hard work, adding that they have done a fantastic job.
Retired Major Parlo Conteh however cautioned on the method through which the People of No. 9 Water Street were to be relocated so as not to use any forceful means. He said they only need to ensure that the place was thoroughly condoned. The Chief Executive Officer for the National Ebola Response Centre went further to emphasised the need for every Ebola case in Kaffu Bullom to be treated with the utmost serious for the simple reason that, it is the Chiefdom that harbours one of the key National assets of this country which is the Freetown International Airport. He said the Command Centre should also be mindful of the Chiefdoms that are of high risks by ensuring that the lay down restrictions are adhered to.
The Chief of Staff to the National Ebola Response Centre- Brigadier General Tatuva who formed part of the entourage of the NERC Boss, expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the Ebola virus was able to regain entrance into Port Loko , after the District had recorded over 30 days of no new case. He viewed that as a weakness that has to be put right without further delay so as to avert a recurrence. It was therefore agreed upon the advice of both the NERC Boss and the Chief of Staff that, Social Mobilisation be intensified, and to as well step up Community Radio Massaging. Some of the action points developed included the intensification of the screening of People at all Ebola Check Points in order to avert what led to the sick women from Kambia who gained entrance to Kaffu Bullom unnoticed. The Engagement of Traditional Healers to help them see the need to refrain from the Practise for now was also resolved. Below are photos of the CEO and a few other people that were in attendance….