Port Loko, Sept. 7 (SLENA) - One of the consequences of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is the mistrust established between health service providers and members of the respective communities. At the peak of the outbreak, many people refused to go to health centers for either examination or treatment no matter the level of illness. This situation was prevalent in the Port Loko District which inarguably recorded the highest numbers of Ebola related cases n the country.
The manner in which some of the victims got infected with the virus sent out a number of conflicting messages. A notable one amongst such was the belief that many people contracted the virus at the various clinics, health centers, hospitals and other health facilities. Even though many voluntarily went or were conveyed for different illnesses other than Ebola, hundreds of lives were lost as a result of this unfortunate development.
It therefore became a common option for natives to go for traditional treatments instead of any form of western medical services.
One clear fact that emerged out all of these is that Ebola came at a time when the government, the health ministry and the people were ill prepared. But frantic efforts have since been made by Government to reverse the trend and the President himself has brought support from abroad, and availed his physical presence in almost every district and affected chiefdoms in the country to mobilize and sensitize the nation on the dos and don’ts of Ebola.
As rightly put by the Port Loko District Medical Officer, Dr. Tom Sesay, the devastating effect of Ebola seriously hampers the utilization of the health services in the district, which he noted, was shrouded in an acute distrust between communities and health service providers.
He said the tension is gradually minimizing especially when a good number of people were now surviving the disease. He spoke of the glittering light at the end of the tunnel, making reference to the over fifty consecutive days without any recorded case of Ebola in the district. He said Port Loko was now nearly 40 days since the last Ebola patient was discharged from a Treatment Centre in the district.
Speaking in an interview with the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA), Dr. Tom Sesay said the concerted efforts of both Government and its development partners have resulted to the increase use of health facilities in the District. He said the Ministry of Health has engaged with the Social Mobilization Pillar at the Ebola Response Centre, adding that the focus is on cross border areas, wharfs, schools and Peripheral Health Units.
He said the district was also conducting a Defaulter Training for Vaccination, HIV and Tuberculosis Services. He said most of the clients who defaulted during the Ebola outbreak in the country now have the opportunity to be serviced. The District Medical Officer said they were also intensifying the monitoring of health interventions of International Non Governmental Organization and at the same time trying to provide a more reliable supply of water, isolation units and constructing insinuators as well as rehabilitating the health facilities in some selected Community Health Centres.
The Port Loko District Medical Officer said the measures so far put in place have gone a long way in creating the enabling environment for quality health service delivery as well as enhancing the Integrated Supportive Supervision which aims at improving the performance of health workers in the respective facilities. It is also serving as a platform for the provision of good and quality services for the Free Health Care beneficiaries which has now captured the Ebola survivors.
Dr. Tom Sesay enumerated a couple of what he referred to as pertinent challenges. One of which has to do with coordinating the activities of international non-government organizations. He said the delay in providing funds for the implementation of mapped out activities, accelerating the age old weak referral systems and coping with the inadequate number of vehicles for effective service delivery, are other key concerns.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.