“EBOLA is here, is real, is deadly, and is preventable, treatable, but not curable. So be RED ALERT!”
“Conscience is a dreadful thing when it accuses the mind and the pettiest forging thing is an individual in the prison of their own conscience”
In the context of the prevailing circumstances, it is an indisputable fact that the knowledge and acceptance of the Ebola outbreak has increased dramatically and in essence the initial denial syndrome has wane dramatically. With the tragic deaths of over 400 Sierra Leoneans (including some 40 medical personnel), the imposition of and the biting effects of the public state of emergency (including drastic restrictions on movements and other social activities as well as the indefinite deferral of BECE, Private WASCE and reopening of schools), and the scaling down, suspension, and in some cases closure of businesses including airlines that has culminated into the lattest sacking of the Health Minister (long overdue)and the restructuring of the National Ebola Operations Centre, it is the author’s candid view that MOST (if not all) Sierra Leoneans are now fully aware of the existence and grueling consequences of Ebola.
Against this premise, I can’t agree more with the popular ongoing debate that what is imperative now is the provision of badly needed logistics including PPEs, disinfectants, and sustained adequate support to those infected and affected by Ebola (quarantined areas, families of deceased, and survivors). Suffice to say that the bulk of resources mobilised locally, nationally, and internationally should be directed towards that end and not the belated heightened social mobilisation activities being organized across the country including the Le 7.8 billion dished out to MPs (who are never health professionals).
Fast forward, the new phase of denial that has surfaced is arguably even more dangerous than the initial one. The first one has to do with the denial of representatives of the MOHS on all media outlets. At every opportunity, they continue to deny or resist the realities on the ground with every fibre of their being. In the process, the “spin doctoring” even contradict themselves thereby exposing their dishonesty as they struggle to (mis)inform the public. Even more disheartening is the fact that as they doctor the information, the ordinary people on the ground always know the reality of the situation.
The same is the case with representatives of the office of government spokesperson. At this critical point in time, the ing thing to do is not to continue to be deceitful (just to justify errors or blunders just to save the faces of their inefficient spin masters and in essence keep their own jobs) but rather to be PATRIOTIC. So far, all the regular government spin doctors since the outbreak of this catastrophic Ebola have at best been apologetic. That is, after initial futile denials, they end up window dressing one erroneous act or omission after the other once overwhelmed by the facts on the ground. This has been the unfortunate situation since the Ebola outbreak in May 2014. If President Koroma’s Friday afternoon decision to sack the former Minister of Health and effect strategic changes in the National Ebola Operations Centre (all coming after several on-the-spots visits of the President to certain strategic EBOLA management health facilities last week) did not send a warning shot to those deceitful spin doctors, then nothing will.
Another level of denial is coming from the majority of public health personnel who because of both genuine and perceived fear are refusing to either report for work or to see patients; Ebola and non-Ebola alike. When the ordinary people who are bearing the brunt of such unprofessional behaviours continue to complain through the various media outlets across the country, arm-chair professionals (especially their mouth-pieces) who more often than not are stationed in either Freetown or the Provincial Cities, dishonestly dismiss the genuine concerns with all sorts of ready-made excuses. Well, to those deceitful spin doctors, the fall of a yellow leaf should be a warning shut to the green ones. Lunta!
Frankly, if denial of the rights of persons at Ebola holding/observation centres and those quarantined by those entrusted with the responsibility to support them is not a deadly denial, then nothing can be. From Kailahun to Kenema and right across the country, those quarantined are constantly complaining about inadequate provision of food items, water, and other basic necessities they were exposed to hitherto, and now entitle to as a result of their “open detentions”. It is an open secret that many people quarantined are denied medical and psychological care in addition to food and other supplies. The lattest cases include two suspected cases that were allegedly starved to death in Zimmi town, Makpele Chiefdom, Pujehun District.
The business people are also in vagrant denial of the public state of emergency by wickedly escalating the prices of essential commodities thereby making life very unbearable for the ordinary people. At least there is a 25% increase on the prices of foodstuffs and Ebola related items since the Ebola outbreak in May 2014. And all this under the watchful eyes of personnel of the Ministry of Trade and Industries. What a denial of the rights of ordinary people!
Also, contrary to the existing fact that the Police are in connivance with certain individuals to flout the restriction of movement to and from Kenema and Kailahun Districts, the police are vigorously denying that fact. Equally, with the tacit connivance of the Police and traffic wardens, commercial motor drivers are in open denial of the emergency regulations against body contacts (don’t touch) through overloading especially along the provincial routes both day and night. Finally, recipients of Ebola resources are in total denial of the public request to redirect the resources at their disposal towards the provision of logistics including PPEs, chlorine and other disinfectants, food items, and other necessities. Conclusively, until the issues mentioned above are thoroughly addressed, the new stain of DENIAL will continue unabated.