PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF
SIERRA LEONE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
245 East 49th Street, New York NY 10017
JOSEPHINE J. KOROMA
Deputy Executive Director of Net Work Movement for Justice
and Development (Representing Civil Society)
at the Side Event
Sierra Leone Ebola Response ''Getting to Zero''
and Post Ebola Recovery Strategy
Fifty-Ninth Session of the
Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
New York, 16th March, 2015
Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here this afternoon to share with you, interventions made by Civil Society Organizations in Sierra Leone in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
From our perspective as CSOs, the rapid spread of the EVD in Sierra Leone could be attributed to factors such as the weak health care system and infrastructure; inadequate understanding within communities of the deadly nature of the EVD; lack of experience among the Health care workers treating the disease; inadequate prevention and control measures and facilities. The resultant effect was that several doctors, nurses and other health workers lost their lives and others abandoned their posts.
A multi- sectorial approach was used to combat the disease. It brought together agencies and stakeholders including Civil Society Actors, from the grass-root to the international level, all putting precautionary measures in place and ensuring the provision of the necessary man power to break the chain in transmission of the medicines and medical equipment, logistics, food items and Disease.
CSOs continue to play active role on major committees on the National and District Ebola Response Task Forces such as the Social Mobilization and Contact Tracing Committees. They sensitize and educate communities on the EVD. They also provided hard ware materials like sanitizers, chlorine and buckets; printed and distributed Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials, aired out jingles and songs in the local languages to deepen understanding of the disease.
In the area of advocacy, in order to ensure the efficiency of the response system, CSOs identified gaps and appealed for increase in treatment and isolation units, beds and more efficient laboratory testing. As attendance at the health centers dropped, CSOs encouraged their communities especially the women to once again start attending routine ante-natal and post- natal clinics and also alerted government to refocus on other tropical diseases like malaria, typhoid and tuberculosis which were still causing the demise of many Sierra Leoneans.
CSOs have embarked on household surveys on Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP). Information generated from the surveys is also used to inform our evidence-based advocacy.
CSOs also strategically engaged the Paramount Chiefs, Societal heads, Religious leaders and other local authorities by establishing Chiefdom Task Forces.
In their monitoring role, CSOs set up and trained neighborhood watches to surviellant communities for possible Ebola patients hiding in homes; monitored the enforcement of harmonized bye-laws in the 149 chiefdoms across the country. They did not only provide food for quarantined homes, but monitored these homes to ensure that their rights to food, portable water and Medicare were respected and their dignity safe guarded.
As the number of Ebola survivors continues to increase, CSOs have felt the urge to embark on Psychosocial Counseling for these survivors to combat stress and distress and prepare communities to welcome them as heroes and heroines rather than stigmatize or discriminate against them.
Additionally, CSOs continue to provide survivors with resettlement packages consisting of body building foods, non- food items, purses for Medicare, implements and seeds for agriculture, cash grants to set up businesses. Some CSOs are also constructing latrines and providing support for Ebola Orphans.
As we march down the road to Zero Ebola Infection, our general assessment as CSOs is that, the awareness level of the disease is now high. However, positive attitude and practice towards prevention still remain low in some districts in Sierra Leone. To conclude, I would like to note that although we are collaborating with government, our critical role as CSOs cannot be compromised. We continue to speak for the voiceless; advocate for a sped up production of Ebola vaccines and drugs, a free health care policy for Ebola survivors and a strengthened health system and infrastructure in Sierra Leone and resources for CSOs to function effectively, as we work towards a robust and speedy socio- economic recovery.
I thank you all.