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  • on 06.11.2014
  • at 11:30 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

Hopes of controlling Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak remain grim 0

Freetown – The fight against the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging West Africa seems to be hanging in the balance as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Abubakar Fofana told IPS that the government is overwhelmed by the outbreak.

“We were not prepared for this Ebola scourge. It took us by surprise and with our weak health system, we can only rely on support given to us by our international partners,” he told IPS.

According to a report published last week by British charity Save the Children, five people are infected every hour here and the situation is worrisome.

The government has, however, downplayed this, claiming the report is hugely exaggerated and that the situation is getting better in some parts of the country.

However, concern is being raised by civil society and the public about how the government is handling the outbreak.

Bernard Conteh, the director of the rights advocacy group Anti-Violence Movement, told IPS: “The authorities should be more pro-active. They should pay health workers, who are the frontline soldiers in this fight, reasonably well and ensure they are supplied adequate Personal Protective Equipments. This is not happening. Even the enforcement of the quarantine of Ebola suspects is not effectively done.”

On just one day, Nov. 2, 61 new cases were reported across the country bringing the nationwide toll to 4,059 people infected by the virus. This surpasses neighbouring Liberia which, until a month ago, was the worst-hit country. Liberia has recorded 2,515 cases while Guinea, where the epidemic first started, has 1,409 recorded cases of Ebola.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic in April, Sierra Leone has lost five medical doctors, more than 60 nurses and auxiliary health workers to Ebola. And the figure keeps going up.

The African Governance Initiative has also painted a grim picture of the outbreak here, saying that it is spreading nine times faster than it did two months ago. Of the 12 districts in the country and the capital Freetown, only Koinadugu in the north was Ebola-free — until recently. It now has at least six confirmed cases. Now, no part of Sierra Leone is unaffected but the virus.

continue reading on IPS Africa

By Lansana FofanaIPS Africa

Photo credit: Flickr/Oxfam 

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