From the Editor’s Keyboard

Bravo, Sierra Leone!

By  | 12 November 2015 at 19:05 | 1938 views

A few days ago the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Director in Sierra Leone, Andres Nostrom, declared Sierra Leone Ebola-free but was quick to add a caveat: the country will be under surveillance for at least 90 days to make sure there is no relapse.

In fact all Ebola survivors around the world are constantly being monitored because it’s a unique disease with unique characteristics. You should never let down your guard even after defeating it; just ask the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, countries in Central and East Africa where the dreaded disease first struck in the 70s and 80s and returned again about a decade ago. In Congo, it was back not too long ago. But the Ugandans and Congolese fought back and sent it packing again and again.

After neighbouring Liberia was declared Ebola-free a couple of months ago,it came back quietly and started harassing a few Liberians. What did the Liberians do? They figuratively took up stones and sticks and killed it again. So we in Sierra Leone should expect this "now you see me,now you don’t see me," or "catch me if you can," Ebola game. We should therefore be on our guard always, from now on. Washing of hands should be a national pastime if I may put it that way. Even here in Canada where I live the federal and provincial governments have always been stressing the need for nurses to wash their hands before and after seeing patients. In fact statistics are being collected on that in some provinces,noting the number of nurses that comply or do not,every month and year. Ebola will no longer hold our people hostage on a massive scale as we saw not too long ago.

We should therefore all celebrate (and we have done so loudly) the defeat of Ebola, an important collective achievement that will allow the country to return back to normal to face the challenges of daily survival and national development.

Sierra Leoneans now know how to tackle national health emergencies and the country now has at least the basic structures to do so. Ebola itself knows it can no longer mess with Sierra Leoneans and Liberians.

Now it’s the turn of our brothers and sisters in neighbouring Guinea to chase Ebola out of their country.