The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 September 2014
Yesterday president Koroma addressed the special session of the UN General Assembly on Ebola – live from the offices of the World Bank in Freetown. He called on the international community to do more to help save lives in Sierra Leone.
He fell far short of calling on the UN to come to Sierra Leone and put in place a robust, concerted and coordinated approach to tackling the virus, not only in Sierra Leone, but across the West African sub-continent.
And critics would no doubt see this as a serious lapse of judgement and a failing on the part of the president, who is refusing to accept that after six months of fighting the Ebola virus with all that the nation has – along with the enormous support of the various health agencies on the ground, the virus is just as virulent today as it began in March, if not more destructive.
With almost 3,000 people now killed by the virus in West Africa, and Sierra Leone and Liberia recording the highest number of deaths, calls for a change of the Ebola crisis management strategy is getting louder.
And the Sierra Leone Telegraph has for long been advocating for a UN coordinated strategy in Sierra Leone, if not the whole of West Africa.
This was echoed by president Obama at the UN yesterday. ‘He said that in just the past weeks, more countries have stepped up support. So has the UN. But we are not doing enough. Everybody has the best of intentions, but they are not putting in action to take us where we should go. There is a need for a global concerted action.’
Also, speaking on CNN yesterday, Sierra Leonean born Aisha Sesay, told viewers that; ‘the one thing that is missing in this fight against the Ebola virus is a coordinated approach.’
Even China, is also now saying that they are willing and prepared to work in Sierra Leone, under a UN coordinated governance framework.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, the Chinese Prime Minister said; ‘These affected countries should be supported. It is important to bring more treatment centres and supplies. China stands ready to join the UN mission.’
The British government has long held the view that a UN coordinated approach is the best way forward in the fight against Ebola.
A few weeks ago, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, said that it favoured a regional wide strategic approach to managing this crisis in West Africa.
The British Prime minister said; ‘The UK stands ready to support the UN mission to avoid duplication.’
The UN Chief Ban Ki Moon said; ‘The UN Ebola Emergency Response Mission has begun to deploy in Ghana. It’s time for the international community to help the three countries step up in the fight against Ebola. Now is the time for a concerted effort to stop this disease.’
So what does president Koroma want from the World?
Speaking live from Freetown, the president said; “My country Sierra Leone is at the battlefront of one of the biggest life and death challenges facing the global human community. A disease like Ebola could no longer be dealt with in isolation by just one isolated country in one isolated corner of the world.”
“Our international partners were slow to recognize the threat for what it was, and when the recognition did come, it came with a flurry of fear that led to banning of travel to and from Sierra Leone and our region.
“As a country we have taken extraordinary measures, including declaring a state of emergency, shutting down the country for three days to get over 27,000 health educators onto every household in the country, and reallocating millions of dollars from other vital services to this life and death struggle.
“We salute the efforts of our partners, but containing this outbreak requires greater international support in the following areas: more treatment centres, labs and equipment; more clinicians, nurses and other health workers in treatment and holding centres; more training for national doctors, nurses and other health workers on safe and effective clinical and nutritional interventions; lifting of blanket bans of flights to and from our countries; logistical support to improve response time, including Ebola customized ambulances, logistics experts, and information managers,” president Koroma told the UN General Assembly.
But falling far short of calling for the UN to step in and take full control of managing and coordinating the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, the president said; “a rapid global response infrastructure must be activated and a strengthened health system in Sierra Leone must be ensured by this international response, so that local capacity is boosted to hold the fort in any future outbreak.”
Will the United Nations impose its will on a president who is in denial, in order to save the lives of 6 million people? Will the UN take full control of managing and coordinating the Ebola crisis in West Africa?
Watch Christine Lagarde of the IMF: