Statement by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on the first anniversary of the declaration of the end of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 7 November 2016.
“On November 7, 2015, we declared victory over a vicious enemy.
On this day in 2015, we came together as a people to thank the Almighty God for His intervention in delivering our nation from the Ebola epidemic. One year ago on this day, we started work on our battle plan for recovery from an unprecedented war; from an epidemic that altered our ways of life; an insurgent that gravely injured our economic development.
One year on, we remember that a total of 8,704 Sierra Leoneans were infected during the outbreak; that we lost 3,589 of our compatriots – brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and that, among them, were 221 healthcare workers including 11 doctors. Therefore as we remember to celebrate our victory, as we continue to give thanks for those of us who have survived; we must also continue to pray for the families and friends we lost.
My Fellow Citizens, I therefore ask you to pause and remember all those who died from the disease. May their souls rest in perfect peace!
As we remember that terrible tragedy, we should also pay tribute to the acts of great humanity and heroism that gave us hope during the worst of the epidemic. Thousands of lives were saved through the courage of individuals who put their concern for others above themselves, some of them losing their own lives in the process.
We should remember that over 35,000 Sierra Leoneans were formally registered as Ebola Response Workers and that there were many more who volunteered to serve in the fight.
We should further remember that our victory was eventually secured when you, the millions of ordinary Sierra Leoneans, united against Ebola.
Together you worked in trust and unity, adopting new habits of hygiene, sanitation, and vigilance in interacting with your families and friends, in your homes and at work.
Together, millions of ordinary Sierra Leoneans collaborated with one aim – delivering our country from the disease. And today, I salute every one of you for the great sacrifices you all made for Sierra Leone.
My Fellow Citizens, in our collective fight against Ebola, we learned a powerful lesson. We learned that resilience only comes with unity and that unity fosters progress. On this day last year, we promised to harness those lessons to continue to transform Sierra Leone into a success story.
This is why, as everyday life resumed, as we returned our children to school in safety, as we restored basic health services, and maintained a zero rate of Ebola infection; we have taken steps to create a safety net for some of the most vulnerable in society including EVD survivors. We have also allocated resources to our business sector, beginning the process of reviving that vital engine of our economic growth.
An independent assessment has shown that the first phase of our recovery programme was largely successful. We continue to make strong and verifiable progress in the Second Phase, the 12 to 24 months of our Recovery which includes energy, water and governance.
We believe that the success of our change process requires improved governance within the public sector. We have therefore ensured that the Anti-Corruption Commission’s new ‘Pay No Bribe’s approach to tackle corruption harnesses technology to collect the first-hand experiences of members of the public. Over time, it will spotlight the best and the worst in the delivery of our public services. This will enable us to address challenges where they exist.
The international community and our development partners remain integral to our development process and we applaud them for their continued support. By better aligning their work in our country with that of the priorities of the Sierra Leonean people, we have arrived at a new way of working which we all agree will deliver more sustainable outcomes.
My Fellow Citizens, today, as we pause again to remember the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who lost their lives to Ebola, we must also remember the sense of national unity that we rediscovered during that period. We must once again demonstrate our resilience and ability to adapt and work as one; to overcome the challenges thrust upon us by that Epidemic and to create the nation we know our children deserve.
Ebola Don Go; Salone For Grow! Thank you and God Bless the Republic of Sierra Leone