Ebola will not change the trajectory

John Baimba Sesay

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 November 2014

riot in freetown - 9 oct 2014In the process of change, especially of attitudes and behavioral patterns, the will on the part of the people to accept the need for change, plays a crucial role in its success or failure.

Accepting could be one thing, but putting into practice what is required is something else.

In the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease, what is generally required is a change in attitude and behavior, and a readiness on the part of people to put an end those to traditional values and beliefs that have been highlighted as aiding the spread of the Virus.

In the typical African setting, people would rather play with the dead and wash it before burial,  in the name of giving lasting respect. This is a serious challenge in the fight against the virus.

What also is challenging is the preparedness to avoid our traditional customs of shaking hands, whilst exchanging pleasantries with friends and families.

That said, I have continued to follow the activities of the presidency in relation to the fight against the EVD.  In the last couple of weeks, the president has not taken a rest – literally.

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Breaking News: Have we lost another doctor?

26 November 2014

There are conflicting reports this morning of another Sierra Leonean doctor, having succumbed to the Ebola virus.

Unconfirmed reports say that Dr. Konoyima of the Children’s Hospital in Freetown, who just yesterday was reported ill with the deadly Ebola virus, has this morning passed away.

If confirmed, this would bring the total number of Sierra Leonean doctors to have died of Ebola to eight – equivalent to two doctors a month, in the last four months.

Dr. Konoyima is a paediatrician. He is an active member of Sierra Leone’s Paediatric Association.

He is believed to have tested Ebola positive yesterday and was then admitted at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Centre.

More on this news later.

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“I will not go quietly” – What a shame

Noorudin KaiKai

26 November 2014

law courts building freetownWhen the judiciary, vested with the authority to interpret the law and to administer justice, is itself embroiled in controversy involving no other but the chief Justice, it tells a story of how corrupt and injudicious our country’s judicial system has become.

Much was made by President Koroma and his supporters, following the appointment of Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh to head the Supreme Court.

And in his euphoria, the President himself did not fail to remind us that he is the only President in the country’s history to elevate women to positions of power.

Also in the midst of this chest thumping, the President did not fail to remind us of other notable women, like the then ministers of Energy and Health respectively –  all rumoured to be his girlfriends.

At the time, very little was known about Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh. And for some of us who were not familiar with her pedigree, we expected members of the judiciary to ask some though provoking questions. But did they?

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Chief Justice must quit now for the good of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 November 2014

umu jallohThe entire establishment in Sierra Leone is today in a state of deep moral and constitutional crisis, whiles Ebola continue to destroy the lives of thousands of poor citizens.

The morale of lawyers in the country has been severely dented, and the country’s justice system reduced to a kangaroo court. Why?

The dogged and stubborn refusal of Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh to quit office gracefully, despite attaining the stipulated retirement age of 65 years, is dragging the image of Sierra Leone down the gutter. Yet president Koroma remains quiet.

After a flurry of high level meetings involving president Koroma and various stakeholders at State House, aimed at resolving this constitutional crisis that has brought the Office of Chief Justice into disrepute, there is no indication of Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh stepping down.

“I will not go quietly”, the Chief Justice is understood to have resolved.

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UK step up Ebola response in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 November 2014

Ebola ambulance accidentThe recent spike in the number of new Ebola cases in Sierra Leone has demanded a renewed sense of urgency to try a different approach in tackling the virus. But as yet, there are no signs of a change in policy or direction. (Photo: One of several Ebola ambulances that have been involved in road accidents).

The newly formed, military led National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) is proving woefully inept in managing the crisis.

Its lack of knowledge and inexperience of managing a public health crisis of this magnitude, is becoming clearly obvious by the day

What you get from the military leadership of the NERC is nothing short of macho bravado – all brawn and no brainer response to the crisis.

The Koroma government of Sierra Leone has to do more, if it is to contain and eradicate Ebola. And president Koroma himself has to show better national leadership, than simply rebuking his uncle – a northern local chief, ironically, for seemingly failing to provide leadership to people of his chiefdom.

There are less than 400 treatment beds in Sierra Leone. With an average weekly number of new cases now topping 300, it is obvious that most of the sick are either being turned away at treatment centres or painfully dying at home – accelerating the cycle of Ebola transmission in the country.

Today, more than 30 British National Health Service (NHS) staff arrived in Sierra Leone to join the military contingent of medical staff that is already hard at work in the country, helping to treat the ever growing number of Ebola sick people.

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Nigeria’s dangerous 2015 elections: Limiting the violence

International Crisis Group

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 November 2014

People demonstrate in Nigeria's northernIn its latest report, Nigeria’s Dangerous 2015 Elections: Limiting the Violence, the International Crisis Group examines the volatile environment in which electoral preparations are taking place and outlines measures that need to be taken urgently to curb the looming violence. (Photo: Human Rights Watch).

According to the report, Nigeria’s politics is sliding dangerously towards violence before, during and after the February 2015 elections. With only three months to the polls, mitigating bloodshed requires urgent improvements in security and electoral arrangements, as well as in political mindsets.

February 2015 general elections are essentially between the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), and will be fiercely contested.

The Boko Haram insurgency, competing claims to the presidency between the majority Muslim north and majority Christian south, inadequate electoral arrangements and apparent bias by security agencies all point toward a very perilous contest whose results may also be disputed.

“Boko Haram’s insurgency makes these elections particularly fraught, but it is only a microcosm of the country’s deepening political, religious and ethnic divides”, says Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria Senior Analyst. “With only three months to the polls, a sense of urgency is more than ever imperative, particularly on the part of the government and the election-management and security agencies”.

According to Crisis Group’s Africa Program Deputy Director –  EJ Hogendoorn:  “As Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, Nigeria would pose a very real security threat if it were destabilised by election violence”.

“Salvaging the situation requires concerted efforts by all national actors and international partners,” says EJ Hogendoorn.

This is a summary of the Report.

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