Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tegloma Federation Joins The Fight Against Ebola in Sierra Leone

Ebola Supplies for
Sierra Leone
The dreaded Ebola virus outbreak which is currently wrecking massive havoc in the Mano River Union states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has surpassed all former Ebola incidents to become the most devastating one in the history of the disease.

The Ebola virus strain which has surfaced in Sierra Leone is particularly virulent with a fatality rate in the region of 90% and no known cure. The virus results in Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever which results in bleeding from body orifices and a painful death. It is highly contagious.
Ebola Front Line Workers

In Sierra Leone,  the Ebola outbreak has not only been rapid in its spread, but has been particularly devastating in it's impact, effectively moving through the Eastern Kailahun district and causing massive fatalities in the course of just two months. It has now been confirmed in the urban Eastern capital Kenema as many people feared, it is now reportedly moving northwards.
Dr. James Senesie

The first official report of an outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa was on March 21st 2014 by the Guinean Health Ministry, with cases in Macenta,  Gueckedou and Kissidougou in the southeastern region of the country. The virus then surfaced in Lofa County in Liberia and was initially thought to have jumped over Sierra Leone.
Dr. Sheku Idriss

Now with the fact that the virus is wrecking greater havoc in Sierra Leone in terms of the high number of cases and fatalities than in Liberia, many are left wondering if the virus had not actually reached Sierra Leone first before Liberia. It could have been that the health care facilities in the Kissi Teng areas where the virus was first reported were never equipped to detect the virus in the first place. Even when the initial reports of infection was first brought to the notice of the authorities the first reaction of the Sierra Leone ministry of health was to deny the incidence of the disease in the country, only confirming the outbreak when fatalities started to occur.

The Sierra Leone government should really have had a strategic Ebola Response team in place in the areas of the country between Guinea and Liberia, as it was just a matter of time given the location of Eastern Sierra Leone to the affected areas in the neighboring countries,  but unfortunately the initial preparedness was not well coordinated as is typical of Sierra Leone, a country not known to be particularly proactive.
More Supplies in Storage

According to the Centers for Disease Control,  as of June 8th there were 528 documented cases with 337 deaths making it the largest Ebola infection on record.

The majority of Sierra Leoneans have now wakened up to the horror of the disease. Iinitially there were some government officials trying to gain political capital out of the poor Ebola response by blaming others. However, there is now a growing coordination of efforts by the Government, NGOS, individuals and Sierra Leone organizations in the diaspora to combat the outbreak and just last week the country's President finally made an address to the nation about the severity of the disease and detailed his government’s response.
Tegloma Federation Secretary
General Amos Alli

One of the first Sierra Leone diaspora organizations to take meaningful action to join in the fight against the dreaded virus was the Tegloma International Federation Inc,  the largest Sierra Leone nonprofit in the diaspora.
As soon as news of the severity of the outbreak started to filter out of the country,  the Tegloma Washington Chapter led by their President Momoh T. Vandy started to mobilize funds and medical supplies for Sierra Leone in order to assist front line health workers minimize the spread of the infection.

The Tegloma Federation Chairman Mustapha Sheriff set up a rapid Ebola Committee led by two medical doctors, Dr Sheku Idriss and Dr. James Senesie,  both US trained medical doctors from Daru and some other prominent Tegloma members to coordinate a response. The committee immediately worked with the Washington Chapter to acquire thousands of dollars worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in order to help front line workers deal safely with the outbreak.

Tegloma has initially flown six bags of medical supplies to Sierra Leone which were presented a week ago to the health ministry to be distributed to front line Ebola health care workers. Each bag contained 200 medical protective gowns,  500 face masks, 400 shoe covers, 400 head covers, 45 sterile gauzes, 400 non-sterile gauze and 16 protective goggles. The organization has also acquired many boxes of medical supplies and PPEs to be shipped to Freetown as soon as possible. 

The Tegloma Federation Board Chairman Abu Bonapha and Federation Chairman Mustapha Sheriff have also launched a massive $25.00 per member fundraising drive. The goal is to make funds available to the district authorities in the affected areas to buy infection control agents like chlorine and also assist in education efforts.
Sierra Leone President
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma

Tegloma members are particularly encouraged that the country's President Ernest Bai Koroma recognized their initiatives in his first address to the nation concerning the viral outbreak.

Sierra Leone's fight against the virus has been challenging, as initially there was a lot of misinformation about the disease. The situation was not helped by the infighting between the Health Minister Miatta Kargbo and the Special Executive Assistant to the President Sylvia Blyden who used her Awareness Times paper to portray the health minister as inexperienced,  
incompetent and uncaring. However, there are now reports that Sylvia Blyden herself is out of the country trying to raise medical supplies for the outbreak and many Sierra Leoneans hope action will now replace blame.

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