The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 September 2014
President Koroma’s decision to sack the health minister and have her replaced by her deputy, as well as the reorganisation of the various committees and quangos that are dabbling with the Ebola virus, amid the unfolding tragedy in Sierra Leone, have sparked a serious debate about the effectiveness and wisdom of those decisions. (Photo: President Koroma).
Whilst the proposals and recommendations that have been put forward to the president for his immediate attention and implementation may be diverse, yet there is now a general consensus. They all agree on one fundamental principle:
There has to be a revolutionary change in the approach, organisation and management of the crisis.
And the central theme of those recommendations is that president Koroma and his ministers, must now ask the WHO to take full responsibility for the management and delivery of all actions and measures relating to combating the Ebola crisis.
This is what Chris Brown – the co-founder of London Mining is proposing for the good of the nation:
As an outsider who cares about Sierra Leone, I would like to express my ideas on the Ebola situation, and make the following nine suggestions:
1. Replace the Presidential Ebola Task Force with a competent person to take charge of this problem.
When you go to war, you want to be led by a leader, not a committee.
Having a committee, even if it is the World Health Organisation, leads to dumbed-down, safe decisions, and not brave inspired decisions.
Choose someone who is fearless, intelligent and knowledgeable about the disease and knows how to manage and inspire people.
2. Get the President back running the country and acting as a statesman, not getting bogged down with the day to day mechanics of dealing with the Ebola crisis.
If there is one thing Sierra Leone could learn, is that the country is over-governed by individual ministers rather than leaving it to the bureaucracy within these ministries.
3. Lease air-conditioned hotels in strategic locations, and convert them into temporary Ebola Virus Treatment Centres; and staff them with overseas nurses and doctors.
In Sierra Leone, this would include the Bintumani Hotel and Radisson Hotels in Freetown, The Place Resort in Tokeh and the Wusum Hotel in Makeni. There are a number of benefits to this:
• The foreign health workers would be able to wear full protective suits without succumbing to the heat
• The health workers would also have somewhere safe to stay, therefore more likely to come to Sierra Leone
• The patients would be more comfortable and likely to come in the first place
• It keeps the virus out of the existing hospitals and allows the health system to keep operating
• It also supports the hard pressed hotel sector whilst no visitors are coming to the country
4. In the outlying regions, create smaller Ebola Virus Referral Centres; and transport infected patients by bus to the new Ebola Virus Treatment Centres, rather than trying to plaster over the situation with temporary camps.
The current Ebola Virus treatment camps are not ideal. They do not have air-conditioning, running water, or proper security.
This proposal also gets as many of the infected people out of the outlying regions, into areas where they can be controlled, instead of spreading the virus further.
5. At each Ebola Virus Treatment Centre, rent a number of taxis on standby to pick up potential patients for free.
6. Use the army to provide armed security at each Ebola Virus Treatment Centre, so that medical staff and patients are not at risk.
7. Train the police force to do the contact tracing of infected patients and to block the unnecessary movement of people.
8. Use the political, tribal and spiritual leaders to spread the hygiene message, and finally.
9. Repeal the ill-thought out Public Health Law.
Sierra Leone is in a pathetic situation in the Ebola crisis. According to the WHO and MSF we are loosing the war. We lack the essentials, needed to eradicate the disease: expertise, logistics, materiel, sound leadership, and discipline.
Inevitably, the international community will have to take command and control of the war.