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Fear and frustration as Guinea struggles to contain Ebola outbreak PDF Print E-mail
Diaspora News
Friday, 04 April 2014 08:31

Virus has claimed 84 lives and jumped borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, raising concerns that it could sweep across region. Late last month, villagers in Guinea's remote south-eastern region of Nzérékoré were greeted by a sight so alarming that many barricaded themselves indoors. A group of doctors dressed in protective suits and helmets were visiting the centre of an Ebola epidemic that has raged for six weeks.

"People were running away from the doctors who looked like cosmonauts on their way back from the moon. We have never seen anything like it. Some locked their doors, others hid themselves. It was frightening because there were all kinds of rumours about how this disease was spreading," said Bah Mamadou, a taxi driver.

It took two more days before his neighbours began to open their doors. Such reactions highlight the uphill battle facing officials and medics as they attempt to contain one of the world's rarest and most lethal viruses, which has claimed 84 lives in the outbreak and jumped borders to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali.

International organisations fear it could sweep across a region with weak public health services. "Prevention is the only way to contain the Ebola spread and we are desperately trying to get the message across. Posters, leaflets, radio, text messages and TV spots – we are resorting to every possible method to reach communities far and wide," said Berenger Berehoudougou, west Africa director of the aid organisation Plan International.

Officials from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention travelled to Guinea this week to offer help, after a scare in Canada when a citizen returning from Liberia fell ill and was initially thought to have been infected.

There have been five suspected Ebola fatalities in Sierra Leone. In Liberia, where a state of emergency has closed the border with Guinea, the government said this week that the latest of its nine victims had no known links to Guinea. "We have a case in Tapeta where a hunter who has not had any contact with anyone coming from Guinea got sick," the chief medical officer, Bernice Dahn, told AFP. "He was rushed to the hospital and died 30 minutes later. He never had any interaction with someone suspected to be a carrier of the virus and he has never gone to Guinea. This an a isolated case."

Described by virologists as a "molecular shark", Ebola is passed on through bodily fluids and causes extensive internal and external bleeding. The fruit bat, a delicacy in Guinea and Liberia, is a host of the virus. The World Health Organisation believes that the virus spread from Guinea's forested regions to the densely populated capital, Conakry, through one man who travelled 200 miles from the central town of Dobala.

"Unfortunately, this one person infected both family members and healthcare workers when he went to Conakry for medical attention and died," said a WHO spokesman, Gregory Hartl. Six of the man's relatives and two other people exposed to him are being kept in isolation at a hospital.

Already struggling with a measles epidemic that has infected 1,500 people since November, Guinea's health system – which ranked last in a 2011 World Bank study of beds per capita – has struggled to cope with the outbreak. Although Guinea is the world's top exporter of bauxite, mineral riches have failed to translate into prosperity. The government – recovering from almost five decades of dictatorship – took more than a month to identify the epidemic, which appeared in early February. The Brazilian mining firm Vale has pulled its international staff from the country.

The latest infections have been passed on among family members or carers, said Sakouba Keita, a health ministry official. In one case, 10 people in one family died. "A lot of people are fleeing towns once they have any sign of a fever or headache. That's where we are psychologically today."

He said the government had a list of affected families and was placing them under 21 days' quarantine. "We also have to deal with a situation where people are using very crowded public transport from the interior to reach hospitals here. We're trying to make sure everybody hears the basic steps they can take to prevent the situation escalating," Keita said. Plan International said a co-ordinated multicountry emergency response was needed.

Last week the Senegalese music star Youssou N'Dour cancelled a concert in Conakry, fearing that a large crowd could spread the disease. Senegal's borders remain closed. Moussa Cissé, a rice trader in Senegal's southern town of Kédougou, said: "It has made things a bit difficult for us here because the weekly markets in [frontier towns] have completely shut down. People are just staying at home and trying to make ends meet."

Other countries have put in place preventive measures. Morocco has implemented strict travel controls, and Saudi Arabia has suspended visas for an estimated 10,000 Muslim pilgrims from Guinea and Liberia. Dauda Souaré, who organises Mecca pilgrimages from Conakry, said: "It's really a massive disappointment to be placed under this kind of collective measure."{jcomments on}

 

Editorial

2016 Global Peace Conference to be held in Freetown---as IPRA 50th Birthday confab ends in Istanbul

 

The 26th biennal conference of the Internatonal Peace Research Association (IPRA) is billed to take place in  Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2016, marking the second time Africa has hosted the conference since the founding of IPRA in 1964. This was announced following the re-election of  the two IPRA Secretaries-general, Dr Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (pictured) and Dr Nesrin Kenar, who co-ordinated the 25th  IPRA conference in Turkey,  at the organisation’s administrative meeting on August 14 during the 25th  IPRA  conference in Istanbul  to serve a second term of two years.

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Business News

ACC CAPACITATES SIERRA LEONE COMMERCIAL BANK STAFF ON ANTI-BRIBERY AND ANTI-CORRUPTION ISSUES

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on the request of the Management of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) on Thursday 20th July, 2017 commenced anti- bribery and anti-corruption training with staff of the Bank.

The training which was held in the Bank's Conference Room 9th Floor, Christian Smith Building 29/31 Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown attracted over twenty members of the Executive Management.

Addressing colleagues, the Managing Director, SLCB, Idrissa Aloma Kamara disclosed that the Bank has integrated into the Bank's operations anti-corruption measures, such as the development of anti-corruption policy, anti-graft messages inscribed on Bank Statements and sensitization of staff on the dangers of corruption. With all these, the MD stated, it is the view of the Bank that the ACC which is the statutory body responsible for the campaign against corruption be brought in, to provide awareness training on anti-bribery issues for an efficient and effective banking system.

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Media News

Freedom of Expression Violations Rise Sharply in West Africa

The incidents of freedom of expression rights violations in West Africa more than tripled in the first quarter (January-March) of 2017.

Over the three-month period, a total of 47 violations were recorded as against 14 violations for the last quarter (October-December) of 2016. The violations recorded in the quarter under review range from arrests and detentions to physical attacks, online violations, shutdown of media houses, censorship, seizure and destruction of property and killings. The 47 violations occurred in 10 out of the 16 countries in West Africa.

These findings are contained in the latest edition of the West Africa Freedom of Expression Monitor, a quarterly report by the MFWA which analyses and highlights freedom of expression developments in the sub-region.

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Commentary

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT

A PASSIONATE LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT:  44TH EDITION

REVIEWING THE JUNE 2017 ECOWAS SUMMIT
 Your Excellency Sir,
 It’s been six months since I subscribed to my usual publications of this piece. And this is primarily because I have been out of the country for the entire period, and as such would not normally objectively tender a subscription. I do apologize to my readers for this. So having being in Monrovia, Liberia for the recently concluded ECOWAS Summit, I would like to do some analysis on such a historic august body and gathering of this sub-Saharan/West African region.
 
In resume, among other crucial achievements, ECOWAS, through its military apparatus, ECOMOG, played very sacrificial and invaluable roles in bringing peace, security and democratic governance to both Sierra Leone and Liberia during their past civil wars, and most recently ensuring that the Gambian people’s democratic change of government from the notorious dictatorial twenty seven years regime of Yaya Jarmeh, to the current government of President Adama Barrow, through their tactical robust intervention, overseen by President Helen JohnsonSirleaf of Liberia and other ECOWAS Presidents/actors, was enforced. Furthermore, ECOWAS has also spearheaded the enactment of several socio-political, advocacy and economic treaties in the sub region.
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View Point

WHY SIERRA LEONEANS HATE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT

Honestly speaking Sierra Leoneans are well known for their hospitality all over the world, especially in Africa. But ironically many of them hate each other. But they love foreigners. They have high respect for strangers. But unfortunately they do not have respect among themselves. You can attest this to what is happening in the social media. Where they are showing their pull him down (PhD) syndrome. By castigating their compatriots unnecessarily. Some of them just because of jealousy and envious evil spirit they possess. They prefer to promote foreigners than their own brothers and sisters both in and out of the country.

Day in day out they are insulting each other.They are using all sorts of vulgar languages against each other. And even their own highly respected president in the world, President Ernest Bai Koroma they are insulting him openly. Therefore, it is an open secret that many Sierra Leoneans are not well cultured.

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News - Press Release

Regent village head calls on LAB to tackle domestic violence

The village head for Regent, Ms. Jokomie Browne has called on the Legal Aid Board to help curb the increase in incidence of domestic violence in the Regent Community in the outskirts of the capital Freetown.

Ms. Browne wants the Board to hold outreach events in the village to educate the people on issues of law relating to domestic violence, gender, women’s rights, redress mechanisms and support services for victims.

‘We want to benefit from the Legal Aid Board’s Legal Empowerment Programme because there is an urgent need for one in the community,’ Ms. Browne told the Executive Director of the Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles on the phone. ‘The situation is desperate. I am afraid if you do not come in now the situation could spiral out of control.’

The call follows series of referral of victims of domestic violence to the Legal Aid Board office in Freetown. The latest victim sent to the Board is one Baindu who was battered by her boyfriend Borbor Abu in the presence of their one year old son.

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Society -Local News

China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project hand over Agriculture Materials to the Ministry of Agriculture

On  21st July ,2017 at a handing over ceremony held at Ogoo Farm in Freetown, China-Aid Agricultural Technical Cooperation Project Team handed agricultural materials to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS). 

The items include seed rice, maize, agro chemicals, fertilizer, pesticides and power tillers for farmers within the western area district. Dignitaries present included The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food security Prof. Monty Jones and his entourage ,  Mr Shen Xiaokai, the Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone, the District agricultural officer, the Chinese technical team, National federation of farmers Sierra Leone representative and lot of farmers in the western Area.

During his statement, Mr Shen said for over 40 years China has been fulfilling its commitment to Sierra Leone with regard the agricultural technical cooperation project.

He said China will continue to assist Sierra Leone in its developmental strides by providing technical support and assistance and by also providing training to help develop the human resource capacity of the workforce.

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Development

30 Staff of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development will go China for Seminar on Economic Planning

Thirty (30) staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will depart the shore of Freetown to China on 14th August 2017. The purpose of their trip is to attend a seminar on Medium and Long-Term Economic planning for Sierra Leone. The National Development and Reform Commission of China will organize the seminar from 16th August to 7th September 2017 in the capital city of Beijing, People’s Republic of China.

The Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Freetown, Mr. Shen Xiaokai met with the 30 participants at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) on 2rd August 2017. In his remarks he told the participants that in December 2016, His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Momodu Kargbo visited China, where they had high level bilateral meetings with Chinese Government Officials. 

He said this seminar is as a result of those meetings. “When China makes a commitment, China will fulfil it” he reiterated. He said The Ministry of Finance is one of the most important ministries in this country, therefore this seminar was designed specifically to meet the needs of the ministry.

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Politics

News from China, June 28th: Youth Affairs Minister addresses 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development in Beijing, China
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Youth Affairs has said, the 2017 Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation in Capacity Development hosted by the Chinese government should help enhance the ties of friendship and foster the wheels of bilateral cooperation between the two nations and particularly strengthen cooperation in the field of human resource development.
 
Hon. Bai Mamoud Bangura spoke on Wednesday, 28th June, 2017, at the start of the week long Ministerial Workshop on International Cooperation, which has brought together participants from various countries, including eight (8) from Sierra Leone.
 
According to minister Bangura, in line with the spirit of friendship and cooperation, the event could serve as an opportunity to jointly define new strategic directions in Sierra Leone’s ties with China and in opening up another episode of friendship and cooperation between the two.
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