CSO PLATFORM ON EBOLA RESPONSE
BRIEFING NOTE … VOL 2
Enhancing Trust between Citizens and the Government in Sierra Leone’s Ebola Response and Recovery
A. Issues from the Community-level Activities Tracking
This report aggregates critical trends captured from National and Community-level Activities. Tracking for the period ending 1st -31st May, 2015. The positive continuing emphasis on Ebola prevention education/sensitization in communities
Across the country, Ebola prevention education/sensitization has continued in communities at impressive levels. It is noted in particular, that local Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) are doing the bulk of the Ebola prevention education/sensitization work. The activities of ActionAid in Bombali, CCYA in Port Loko, and CARL as platform members is particularly noted. The emphasis on continuing Ebola prevention education/sensitization even as the country counts down to zero infection is clearly consistent with warnings from World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations (UN), and government against complacency in the fight against Ebola. Ebola prevention education/sensitization may need to be around for a long time; and local NGOs and CBOs are best placed to take lead on it.
Issues for consideration: The platform recognises that getting to and staying at zero requires sustained Ebola prevention education/sensitization efforts. We, therefore, encourage NERC/government/INGOs to provide continued support to local NGOs, Community Based Organisations and structures to undertake more Ebola prevention, community health and hygiene education in communities.
1. Hospitals and Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) are being looked at for physical improvement and equipment support
Since zero-Ebola infection began to be anticipated earlier in the year, attention has gradually been turning to giving hospitals and Peripheral Health Units (PHUs) physical improvement and equipment support. Government has taken lead in this. In the Western Area (Urban) for instance, four PHUs have been earmarked for upgrading to tertiary facility status. On their part, a number of international NGOs and bilateral organizations, including Child Fund, China Center for Disease Control and Save the Children made equipment and consumables donations to PHUs in particular in the period under review. While upgrading hospitals and PHUs is appreciated, it is noted that little consideration is being given to increasing critical medical personnel. A review of Community-Activities Tracking reports for the period under review did not capture one instance of action to address the country’s critical shortage of medical personnel.
However, a meeting with the NGO Liaison Officer at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation reveals that there ongoing plans to address the shortage of health personnel in the country.
Issues for consideration: The platform urges government/MOHS/Local Councils to share relevant information on plans for addressing the issues of health personnel at district and community levels.
2. The increasing number of zero-case districts and implications of the closure of Ebola facilities
At the time of the compilation of this report, 10 out of the country’s 14 Districts had attained zero-Ebola case status. A review of Community-Activities Tracking reports for the period under review consequently shows that most of the holding, treatment and laboratory facilities are being closed down across the country. The count-down to zero-case for the whole country however, has proven to be particularly difficult in the last two months. Ebola persists in the three Districts of Kambia and Port Loko and Western Area Urban. The threat of Ebola popping out of these places and moving into currently zero-case Districts exists.
Issues for consideration: The platform therefore urges NERC and DERC to put preparedness plans in place to deal with holding, treatment and laboratory challenges in the event Ebola moving into currently zero-case Districts.
The platform also calls for adherence to community bye-laws, particularly from the stand point of the vigilance of central government, NERC and the security sector.
3. Ebola survivors left out of government’s main programme for support to vulnerable people.
Government’s support to vulnerable people in the aftermath of Ebola is largely being pursued through NaCSA’s cash transfer to “extremely poor households”. The programme under experiment in Bombali, Kono, Moyamba, and Western Rural Districts, is set to benefit 13, 000 households with monthly payments for livelihood expenses. There is no directly stated provision for Ebola survivors in the programme as it stands. Currently, Ebola survivors mostly depend on donations of food and essential livelihood items from philanthropic individuals and organizations. In May, the platform urged for the design and implementation of programmes for survivors’ longer term livelihood resilience. NaCSA’s programme would offer opportunities for survivors’ longer term livelihood resilience.
The platform urges the government to share information regarding any plans to develop a Presidential Post Ebola strategy to support survivors.
Members: ActionAid Sierra Leone, Campaign for Good Governance, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities, Institute for Governance Reform, Budget Advocacy Network, and Democracy Sierra Leone
With funding from
Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.