Many who know how the international world reacts, tell this paper that down-playing of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone plus denial by some officials are responsible for slower than anticipated response from international community.
For example, neighbouring Liberia and Guinea have been very honest enough to state their hundreds of suspected and probable deaths from Ebola. In Sierra Leone, Health Ministry is continuing to release figures that make total mockery of data from affected communities. Even as the Paramount Chief of Jawei Chiefdom has probable and suspected deaths in his chiefdom alone, totalling several dozens, the Health Ministry has simply ignored the data instead showing less than 3 dozen probable deaths and only 5 suspected deaths for whole of Sierra Leone!!
On 6th August 2014, Ministry of Health sent out its daily Ebola update around the world. It stated, as of 6th August 2014, "total number of new confirmed cases is 32. The total number of cumulative confirmed cases is 623".
The next day 7th August 2014, the same Ministry of Health sent out its daily update which stated, as of 7th August 2014, "total number of new confirmed cases is 15. The total number of cumulative confirmed cases is 631".
Basically, the Ministry of Health was saying when you add 15 new cases to 623 cases of the day before, you do not get 638 cases as expected; they got 631 cases! This means 7 cases had simply disappeared off the radar.
Again between Tuesday August 12th 2014 and the day before, August 11th 2014, the numbers have again been massaged downwards with 21 new cases added to 683 cases giving 703 instead of actual 704 it should be.
This deceitful manipulation of figures has been a game played by the Ministry of Health since this crisis broke out. They massage numbers downwards.
Such downplaying around of numbers, especially the number of deaths, has infuriated those who understand the ramifications of such actions.
Writing openly on her Facebook wall few weeks back in July, Dr. Sylvia Blyden had stated that she would "never again" quote any of Health Ministry's number of deaths reported because she said the low numbers were "an insult to memories of those who have actually died from Ebola since it broke out in Sierra Leone".
Fortunately, Laboratory confirmed data cannot be ignored like suspected & probable data from Jawei chiefdom and other places. So, although down-sized, the laboratory confirmed figures show over 200 cases of Ebola in just 2 weeks (July 29th to August 12th 2014).
A question that many citizens now ask of one another is, whether the country can win this battle against Ebola if deceit and denials continue to be the order of the day?
¬© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.