Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 September 2015
There are reports from Kambia in Sierra Leone this weekend, of one of the contacts of the woman who died of Ebola over a week ago in the district, also found to be Ebola positive.
This tragic news comes as neighbouring Liberia is for the second time declared Ebola free. Almost two months ago, Liberia was beginning to implement its post Ebola recovery programme, when a seventeen year old man was struck down by the virus.
The death of the young man in Liberia was a major setback for the country, after enjoying months of freedom from the virus.
But Liberia has now started another round of Ebola freedom. The World Health Organisation last week declared the country Ebola free for the second time.
In neighbouring Sierra Leone, in the Kambia district, the prospect is grim. Whilst this new confirmed case of Ebola was expected after a woman died of the virus over a week ago, what is not certain is how many more of her contacts are likely to have contracted the disease.
Scores of people are being held in quarantine in the Kambia district. The total cumulative number of people dead from the virus in the district is 159.
In the meantime, after nine days of zero cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, a new countdown to the 42 days has begun, before the country can meet WHO standards for declaration as Ebola free.
Sierra Leone has come a long way in its fight against the Ebola virus, yet the end of the road seems so far off.
The capital Freetown and Bombali district in the north of the country, have so far achieved 31 days and 164 days respectively, without any new case of Ebola.
But with Kambia struggling to defeat the virus, there are fears of fresh major outbreak of the virus in the north of the country.
More than 3,500 people have so far died of the virus in Sierra Leone, with almost 9,000 confirmed cases.
The country’s derelict drainage system is unable to cope.
The rainy season in Sierra Leone always bring fresh fears of cholera outbreak. Thousands of people in Sierra Leone and neighbouring Guinea die every year from cholera, especially in the rainy season.
At the best of times, the health systems in Sierra Leone are unable to cope with the growing pressure caused by migration, poverty and rising adult morbidity.
Whilst international donor aid has managed to keep the health service on life support, the Ebola crisis has made resuscitation much harder.
But with promise of new funding by the international community to implement a recovery programme, the government is confident that the country’s health care system can get back on its feet.
Critics say that after failing to account for $14 million of funds meant to provide respite for those dying of the Ebola virus, the much promised $200 million Ebola recovery fund is at serious risk of misappropriation by those in high places.
It is understood that president Koroma has increased the monthly salary of the man running the Ebola response Centre – Major Palo Conteh to $10,000. He is a relative of the president and a trusted political ally.
Average monthly income per person in Sierra Leone is no more than $30. Poverty is the biggest killer in Sierra Leone.