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Addressing the Ebola Virus Disease and Trauma PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Editorial
Written by Abdulai Bayraytay   
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 14:14

To say that the peoples of the three West African states of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are undergoing trauma would be understatement. This is particularly so as these states are presently battling the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that was first detected and confirmed in Guinea and then spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia with the attendant deaths of innocent and unsuspecting people.

Indeed, the Ebola Virus Disease (EBV) reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the deadliest in the history of epidemics, has claimed the lives of a record cumulative fatality two hundred and fourteen (214) Ebola confirmed deaths, five hundred and ninety-one (591) confirmed Ebola cases and one hundred and sixty-one (161) survivors as of August 5, this year in the case of Sierra Leone.

So far, Governments have poured in millions of dollars with the international community complementing with experts and financial resources to mitigate and eventually eradicate the scourge of Ebola.  So far, President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and his Government remain the only country that has pronounced the most stringent measures that include the deployment of the military and the police to cordon the epicentres of the virus and quarantine household of confirmed cases of Ebola.

However, the fight against the EVD continues to be as challenging as ever, with particularly various hypotheses and theories being proffered by some distracting mainstream media and other social commentators that Ebola remains a myth, and that, in the case of sierra Leone, it was all a ploy by the Government to scale down populations in hitherto opposition strongholds with the intention of providing political advantage to the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party come the 2017/18 elections. The coincidence of census slated for later this year did help the situation either.

In neutralising this ill-fated theory, Government had to support all the ten political parties, including the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP),  to visit the south and eastern parts of the country to “sensitize”  the public on Ebola. Then, one sort of civil society or the other took the cue and embarked on massive sensitization campaigns against the dread.

The myth and confusion were no novelty to Sierra Leone. For instance, when Ebola broke out in Uganda in the early 2000s, the myth that the wearing of banana leaves on the left wrist and the appeasement of the gods because of their unhappiness with mother earth would spare one of the scourges punctuated communities around Gulu.

The highpoint of the controversy in the current fight against Ebola in West Africa is the rather hypothetical question repeatedly posed by social media commentators of what bio war researchers from Western countries are doing in Ebola-prone countries West Africa?

This article is therefore not so much to examine neither the pro-active measures the respective governments have put in place in the fight against EVD nor to scold the ignorant populations about their initial denial that Ebola is a myth. 

Instead, it intends to underscore the trauma that families and the countries are dealing with on a daily basis. One can only imagine the grief that comes with bereavement not the least wherein one is denied the cultural right to give a loved one a befitting funeral rite that passed on from the Ebola virus.

In situations like this, there is no gainsaying that Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), 

an exceptionally stressful event like that of Ebola is prevalent among the people. It is especially traumatising for children who have lost their parents to Ebola and then rejected by their communities amidst the attendant stigmatization.

This is where one calls for child protection issues and therapeutic counselling to be         incorporated as part of a holistic approach in whatever strategies devised with Governments and the international community in the fight against Ebola.

Like the trauma that Sierra Leone witnessed during and following the end of the civil war, interventions should not just focus on supporting individuals, families and communities regain a sense of control and safety, but should be taught skills that would make them more tolerable in their management of anger and rage, or how to grieve loss of loved ones.

There is a compelling need for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to scale up trauma counselling during and after the Ebola outbreak. This is so badly needed because following the death of Sierra Leone’s only virologist and lead-fighter against Ebola, Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan (from Ebola) a fortnight ago, my voluntary dedicated line to provide free trauma counselling continues to be inundated with calls almost round the clock from doctors, nurses and frontline health workers who have one form of anxiety or the other.

And this is where I doff my hat to WHO and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone for establishing a 117 hotline that continues to provide not just a medical response to Ebola, but therapeutic counselling to front line health workers, children and their families in ongoing efforts to address the psychological trauma that comes with the Ebola outbreak in the sub-region.

This is crucial since therapy has clinically proven to be very helpful and effective in the treatment of PTSD, as healing will often occur with those directly affected retelling of the trauma during and after the disease would have been mitigated and brought under safer controls.

Author, Abdulai Bayraytay is a trauma and an Immediate Support Counsellor. He holds double master’s degrees in Social Work (with specialization in child protection), and Political Science from University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada respectively.

 

 

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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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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Two veteran Journalists, now in the United States have paid a courtesy call on Sierra Leone's Ambassador

Two very respected and veteran Journalists who are in the United States of America for various reasons have called on Sierra Leone’s Amr. Bockari Kortu Stevens not only to appreciate the work of the Embassy, but also to pay courtesy as protocol demands.

Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson, former Lecturer Fourah Bay College, former Director of Information Ministry of Information and Communications, Former Director Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Former Chairman Independent Media Commission (IMC) and stringer French News Agency  etc. is on vacation and Mr. Cyril Juxon Smith Director Information and Communications House of Parliament, former Acting Director General Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS) and former UNESCO Media Consultant  is in the United States of America to attend the funeral of his father.

Speaking at the Ambassador’s residence on 4821 Colorado Avenue, Washington DC  Mr. Rod Mac-Johnson said “Thank  you Amr. Stevens for accommodating us in the middle of your tight schedule, and also to discuss with us in a homely spirit.

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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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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

250 LAB trains staff on Alternative Dispute Resolution

A hundred and twenty-five staff and volunteers of the Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board including lawyers and paralegals have benefited from a four-day training on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at the Stadium Hostels in Freetown from the 24 to the 27 July 2017.

Other beneficiaries include the WAN POT Comedians, members of the National Youth Coalition and six senior officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF). The latter includes the highest ranking female military officer, Brigadier Kestoria Kabia and the Director of Gender and Equal Opportunities at the Ministry of Defence Col. Tucker.

The training is aimed at equipping staff and partners with the requisite skills and techniques required for effective and efficient ADR. Moreover, the trainees should be able to use ADR as an alternative to litigation and using effective skill of arbitration, mediation, negotiation and active listening. 

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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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