To me, stress is a pressure or worry by the problems in somebody’s life. Physicists describe it as a tension or force placed on an object to bend or break it. In his book, ‘The Science of Mind and Behaviour,’ Passer smith, states that “Stress is an inability to cope with perceived real or imagined threat to one’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing which results in a series of psychological responses and adaptations.” Following the deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus from neighbouring Guinea, through Koindu, Kailahun District, Northern Sierra Leone, it appears as if stress is becoming visible in the conduct of every Sierra Leonean on a daily basis.
Sierra Leoneans and non Sierra Leoneans, who are currently residing in the country, are under stressful attack as a result of the Ebola outbreak, a virus which got it way into Sierra Leone due to the negligence of the Government of Sierra Leone. Yes, it is a complete negligence on the part of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, under the current leadership of Madam Miatta Kargbo.
Truth, they say is sacred and it is the only healer of an open wound called conscience. If truth is to be told, history is about to repeat itself in Sierra Leone. In that vein, let us allow The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans to recall, especially during the 1980s under the then All Peoples Congress (APC) regime, led by the late President Joseph Saidu Momoh. During that time, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) launched a destructive rebellion in Liberia. That rebellion, headed by the international war crime convict, Charles Gangay Taylor made its maiden attack in the Bon County, South of Liberia, all in a bid to unseat Samuel K. Doe, who was later killed by Prince Johnson. As the situation got horrible, Liberians came to Sierra Leone as refugees through Nyeyama and Bomaru town in the Kailahun District. Unfortunately, while Liberians were crying in pain some Sierra Leoneans were happily asking: Do Rebels Have Tails? The APC government of the handpicked Brigadier Joseph Saidu Momoh did nothing to repel or prevent the rebel incursion in Sierra Leone. That negligence on the part of the Government resulted into a rebel war in the early 1990s, which today have devastating effects with negative implications on every life and sector.
Apparently, it is more than a decade now and as the former United States of America Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld puts: History is a clear guide to the future. If this is so, then similar negligence has been demonstrated again, this time around in May 2014, under the leadership of President Ernest Bai Koroma. Majority of Sierra Leoneans are squarely blaming Madam Miatta Kargbo for being the cause for the spread of the Ebola virus. Some even went on to say that Madam Kargbo is incompetent and should be relieved off duties by her boss, President Koroma.
I agree on one hand and disagree on the other. This is because President Koroma is the Employer and Madam Miatta Kargbo is just an Employee. As an employee, she signed a Performance Contract with her boss, the President, and if she proves to be incompetent, it is the sole responsibility of President Koroma (The Employer) to sack her and promptly replace her with a competent Sierra Leonean who can perform extremely well. The Voiceless is asking, who do we blame for negligence? Although it is often said that if all lizards lie prostrate, it is difficult to tell which one is suffering from belly ache, but here we would be able to decipher who takes the greater portion of the blame. Conclusively, if Madam Miatta Kargbo still continue to man such Ministry and not being sacked, then her work is seen by President Koroma as satisfactory. Let The Voiceless prick your memory on the numerous potholes that had been an obstruction to vehicular movements in the capital city, Civil Society Organisations gave an ultimatum and urgently demanded for the immediate relief of the Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, Alimamy Petito Koroma. President Koroma realized that the erstwhile Minister was incompetent, and therefore relieved him from office and up till now he has not seen competent Sierra Leonean to fill in such vacancy.
History has truly repeated itself. When Ebola virus started killing people in Guinea, the House of Parliament summoned Madam Miatta Kargbo to explain her Ministry’s preparedness in case there is an outbreak of the disease in Sierra Leone. She assured the Parliamentarians with huge confidence, adding that her Ministry has put all necessary structures in place to repel and prevent the outbreak. In euphoria, one of the Parliamentarians of Constituency 002, Mustapha Brima, admitted that indeed they were satisfied with the utmost professionalism demonstrated by the Minister. Two months later, in a rather disappointing mood, Hon. Brima said: “We have the wrong impression of the Minister’s preparedness. The first part of defence should be prevention and not cure. There has never been an effective sensitization about the Ebola virus, and the nurses were not supplied with protective gears to protect and secure them to do their work”.
Interestingly, if Parliamentarians were deceived then who else will the Minister not deceive? May be one would say she will not deceive her Employer.
Many Sierra Leoneans are still with the view that Ebola is a political gimmick by the ruling government. The Voiceless wants to reaffirm here that Ebola is real and not a fictional issue.
The most trumpeted Ebola virus, what is it? The Ebola virus or hemorrhagic fever is the human disease caused by Ebola Virus. According to Doctors With Borders, the symptoms start about two days after contracting the virus with a fever, throat and muscle pains, and headaches. There is then nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. At this point some people begin to have problems with bleeding. Fruits bats are believed to carry and spread the disease without being affected by it. Once infected the disease may be spread from one person to another.
Prevention involves decreasing the spread of the disease from infected monkeys and pigs to humans. This may be done by checking these animals for infection and killing and properly disposing of the bodies if the disease is discovered. Properly cooking meat and wearing protective clothing when handling meat may be helpful, as may wearing protective clothing and washing hands when around someone sick with the disease. Samples from people with the disease should be handled with an extra degree of caution.
It is said that the Ebola disease has a high death rate: possibly up to 90%. Between 1976, when it was first identified, and 2014, fewer than 1,000 people a year have been infected. The largest outbreak as of 2014 was the 2014 West Africa Outbreak, which affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Medical evidence shows that the disease was first identified in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In defense of the criticism, the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Theo Nicol, said the criticism is unfair, saying that his government has worked hard to educate Sierra Leoneans and non Sierra Leoneans about how to stop the spread of the disease and has declared a state of emergency in the area where people have died.
On the contrary, Bart Janssens, the Medical Group’s Director, who are working to develop prompt medication for the Ebola virus, said the outbreak is totally out of control and the Governments’ involvement and international organizations are not doing enough to combat it.
"So if (Doctors Without Borders) is now saying that the disease is out of control, then we all share the blame for it being uncontrollable," he said.
The Voiceless therefore conclude by saying that we should all share the blame and later on share the credit when we finally combat the disease, which will be soon. Let’s stop the talking and act now to redeem ourselves from this deadly attack. This is the pen of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans.