Kissi Town Ebola Forum

We held our latest forum on 21 December in Kissi Town.

We thought that the best way to try and explain what our forums are about would be to set out some set out some extracts from notes made during the forum itself. This means more text than usual – but we think its worth it as it gives a valuable insight into what goes on and just how important these sessions are:

Opening prayers: Both Muslim and Christian. This is a common feature of any meeting in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Abu Bakarr Kanu, the PRO of the Western Area Rural Council: thanked CODEP and Build on Books for their contribution in the fight against Ebola.

Rosetta Kargbo thanked all participant for turning up for the forum. She spoke about breaking the chain of transmission which is paramount in the eradication of Ebola. That we must join hands together to eradicate this dreadful disease. We must note that we are all quarantined as a nation, so we are here to discuss as a family for the breaking of the chain of transmission. Our concern is highly on the children and those affected by Ebola. Let us look into our beliefs which contribute to the spread of the virus. We are therefore here to speak plainly and ensure that we stop some of these beliefs to ensure that the transmission chain is broken.

Library committee chairman—Mr. A.H Sesay said it is the aim of the two organizations to ensure that the children have regard for their teachers. As library chairman, the Ebola message is widespread but the problem is that we have denial. The advice is that we should abide by the medical preventive methods or practices. The greatest problem is washing dead bodies. The chairman spoke about the importance of the library which develops the reading and knowledge of leaners.

WARDC Chairman Representative, the PRO Mr. Abu Bakarr Kanu spoke about the work of the Council. Too many people have spoken against the ills of Ebola, but we have refused to change our attitude. People have become adamant in taking heed against the chain of transmission. Council have embarked on a door-to-door search to remove the sick from their homes. We should ensure that we turn up for early treatment. Ebola has eaten up the fabric of our society and we therefore have to take up drastic measures to eradicate the disease. If we comply to the rules and regulations set, we will indeed succeed in eradicating Ebola.

Stigmatization of survivors—Alie Sesay on behalf of the organization ‘Street Child ‘ extended his gratitude to CODEP and Build on Books. They target the removal of children from the street, which they had succeeded in doing before the Ebola outbreak. Now that there is no schooling, they have embarked on providing water for the orphans. Stigmatization he said is provocation where in people don’t come close to you and even call you names. How do we feel when we start to provoke people that have been affected by the virus which is not their wish. Let us note that there is no child that will wish to be a failure in future. Let us fear that these children we are stigmatizing might end up being successful men and women after Ebola. We should know how it feels to lose a parent at a youthful age. Let us imagine that our own children are faced with such a situation. How do we feel? We have to embrace all Ebola survivors.

Presentation—Ebola is real. It is a viral haemorrhagic fever caused by virus through bleeding and fever. It initially started from animals. It is found in body fluids. When animals that have been infected by ebola are eaten or their body fluids are contacted, the Ebola virus is transferred to humans. The Ebola virus started in Congo in 1976. The signs and symptoms —- terrible headache and fever, red eyes, chest pains, nausea and sore throat. It is advisable that anyone that has been infected should not join public transport in order not to transmit the virus to others. With time, vomiting takes place, damage takes place to the internal organs and thereby causing internal bleeding. Those family members that have been suspected of having Ebola should be isolated. Preferably, one family member takes care of the sick using preventive gargets. There is difficulty in breathing for those that are extremely sick. The chances of survival are the early stages when the organs are still workable eg. the kidney. On the death of any Ebola patients, we should avoid them because the virus becomes aggressive. Advise—avoid body contact, wash your hands regularly, don’t touch the dead or wash their bodies. Let us also avoid denial.

Hon. Claude Kamanda thanked the councilors and headmen for what they had done. Also sympathizes with families who have lost their loved ones. We need to encourage the survivors of the Ebola and out of twelve doctors that have been infected, only one has survived. In fact the government is planning to use the survivors to help fight the Ebola disease. As chairman of the DERC, we are ready to attack the common enemy from all fronts. The surge campaign declared by the president is to remove all sick people from their homes to care centres.

In his remarks, Alhaji Sheik Mustapha Jalloh said according to the Quran, it is not the washing of dead bodies that will lead one to heaven. People should go according to medical advice. If anyone washes the corpse of one that dies of Ebola, gets infected, infect others and all of them die, God will hold that person responsible. People have to forget about all traditional practices to break the chain of transmission. He asked that he is invited at any time and anywhere such forums are held he was ready to attend

Mrs. Nafisatu Tholly, Headteacher said she was very grateful to the organizations that had such a forum and that she learnt a lot from the discussions. She said the biggest challenge they were going to have was that of stigmatization among children when schools would reopen. She was happy that the message has started going round. She believed that if the chain of transmission is broken, then Ebola would soon be over and the country would be normal.

As we said, food for thought.

The CODEP Team

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