As Ebola outbreak ends, President Koroma Appeals for Sustainable Zero infection

Freetown, Nov. 9, 2015 (MOHS) – President Koroma has re-echoed the end of the Ebola outbreak with the leadership of the Sierra Leone Parliament to facilitate the pronouncement of the end of the State of Emergency in the country, and calls for sustainable zero.

endebolaHis Excellency The President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma

He made this statement on Saturday November 7, 2015 at the Bintumani Hotel Conference Hall after the declaration of the end of the Ebola outbreak by the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom.

President Koroma also requested the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to free defaulters of the public health emergency from the Correctional Centre, and declare November 21, 2015 as National Thanksgiving Day and December 18, 2015 a day for the Response Workers.

endebola1Observing individual silent prayers for the lost victims and healthy wellbeing of survivors

He paid special tribute to health workers and other Response workers, and salutes volunteers who served in various capacities to help achieve the end of the epidemic. The outbreak he noted started in Kailahun and ends in Bombali district, adding that considerable efforts and progress were made in handling the disease.

He observed the bitterness in the change of our culture and traditional practices, the restricted movement, and the loss of too many lives as a result of the outbreak, as well as the catastrophe that halted the strides in our economic development, and appealed for a culture of maintaining sustainable zero infection across the country.

The President acknowledged the role played by Sierra Leoneans and institutions in diverse ways in the fight against the Ebola, and appealed to the media to assist in putting the country back on the road for national development. Dilating on the new beginning, President Koroma urges all to put behind the bad practices and forge ahead with the country’s recovery resilient strategy.

He described survivors as our great heroes and heroines, and calls for psycho-social support and counseling devoid of stigmatization.

In declaring the end of the outbreak, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom commended Sierra Leone for stopping the Ebola virus transmission and encouraged Sierra Leoneans to sustain the zero achievement.

endebola2Historic Declaration! End of the outbreak WHO Country Representative, Dr. Anders Nordstrom

Sierra Leone, Dr. Nordstrom said recorded its first Ebola case in May 2014, adding that a total number of 8,204 people were infected and 3,589 died. Among them 221 were health care workers. The Ebola outbreak also left an estimated 4,000 survivors who he said needs medical care and social support.

“The country experienced a massive rise in cases in September and October 2014 which was curbed by putting in place treatment facilities, setting up safe and dignified burial teams and working with communities to identify and stop Ebola”. The use of rapid response teams and strong community involvement became the corner stone of the national response strategy. International partners supported the government to maintain a rapid response capacity to detect, identify and shut down any transmission chains, and also contributed technical assistance, personnel, food, supplies and equipment, Dr. Nordstrom told his Bintumani audience and the nation.

Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah described the day as a new era of fresh hope and a stepping stone of our stewardship in the fight to end the outbreak.

endebola3Health and Sanitation Minister, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah: “foundation established against any future threat, no turning back”

Sierra Leone Dr. Fofanah said has demonstrated to the world that we are a resilient nation with a high level of patriotism. This he said would go a long way in our history. The international partners stood by us in the fight and we must appreciate their contribution.

Noting the re-emergence of the disease, with reference to the Liberia experience, Dr. Fofanah called on Sierra Leoneans to adopt a “No turning back” attitude.

Sierra Leone, he told his audience now has the foundation for any future threat with support from Public Health England, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) USA, CDC China and other partners.

He commended Rtd. Major Paolo Conteh and the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) team and all the frontline health workers in the fight to contain the disease.

Making his statement, the Chief Executive Officer NERC, Rtd. Major Alfred Paolo Conteh described Sierra Leone as a fast growing economy attacked by a vicious enemy that has now been triumphantly defeated.

endebola4NERC CEO Rtd. Major Paolo Conteh: “Survivors, practice safe sex with partners”

His mission he said ends in December 31, 2015 when the transition from NERC to Ministries of Health and Sanitation and Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs and Office of the National Security (ONS) takes effect.

The occasion Rtd Paolo noted is Sierra Leonean victory, and lauded Paramount Chiefs, Ward Councilors, Religious and Traditional Leaders, Security forces, partners, frontline health workers and all others that contributed to the victorious moment.

The survivors he noted play key role to end the Ebola fight, describing them as champions that should be embraced in all communities without stigma, and encouraged them to have safe sex with their partners in making sure we sustain the zero victory.

JAK/KK/MOHS/SLENA