News / Africa

Sierra Leone Religious Leaders Criticize Government Handling of Ebola

The Arwa clinic, center, that was closed after the clinic Doctor got infected by the Ebola virus in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 15, 2014..The Arwa clinic, center, that was closed after the clinic Doctor got infected by the Ebola virus in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 15, 2014..
x
The Arwa clinic, center, that was closed after the clinic Doctor got infected by the Ebola virus in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 15, 2014..
The Arwa clinic, center, that was closed after the clinic Doctor got infected by the Ebola virus in the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, July 15, 2014..
Reuters

Religious leaders in Sierra Leone have criticized the government's handling of an Ebola outbreak that has killed 194 people in the West Africa country, saying a lack of information was prompting rural communities to shun medical help.

Health authorities in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are struggling to contain the worst outbreak of the deadly epidemic which has killed some 603 people since early this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Bishop John Yambasu, chairman of an interfaith task force, said he was “seriously disappointed” the government had failed to declare a public health emergency and pump more resources into the fight against Ebola, which has infected 400 people in the country.

The highest number of deaths in recent weeks had been recorded in Sierra Leone, the WHO said. It warned of resistance from remote rural communities to allowing access to doctors amid fears that outsiders were spreading the disease.

“Every day in this country the number of new cases is increasing. To us as religious leaders that is unacceptable,”  Yambasu, head of the United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone, told Reuters. He said the government was too concerned by the “political connotations” of declaring an emergency.

Health Minister Miatta Kargbo has said the Ebola outbreak is “a serious matter” but has not reached emergency levels.

Ebola causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea and was first detected in Democratic Republic of Congo in the mid-1970s. Spread through contact with blood and bodily fluids, it is one of the deadliest viruses, killing up to 90 percent of those infected, and has no known cure.

Nurses strike

Dozens of nurses at a government hospital in eastern Sierra Leone town of Kenema went on an indefinite strike on Monday following the death of three of their colleagues on Sunday. All three were suspected to have been infected with the deathly virus.

The Kenema hospital has the only testing center in the country for the haemorrhagic fever and holds the highest number of patients of the outbreak.

Mohamed Sheriff, a spokesman for the nurses, said they were demanding among other things the “immediate relocation to an isolated area of the Ebola ward and its takeover by the French medical agency, MSF”. 

The Ebola wards are situated inside the Kenema hospital compound which the striking workers say poses a health risk to them and non-Ebola patients.

Sierra Leone's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Brima Kargbo said the government was looking into the nurses' grievances. 

Dozens of laboratory technicians at Sierra Leone's only Ebola-testing facility went on strike last week over a $20 monthly risk premium which they were promised but never paid.

Yambasu said that in Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone - the epicenter of the outbreak - locals had dug trenches to bar ambulances and police from accessing their communities. Many locals regard being taken to an isolation ward as a death sentence. 

“It is likely that people are dying in the bush” due to lack of information about the disease, he said, adding that leaving those infected in their communities was encouraging the virus to spread.

Yambasu said religious leaders would preach in their churches and mosques for a change of attitude towards the disease and would visit the center of the outbreak and call for change.

Sierra Leone's religious leaders played a leading role in ending a brutal 1991-2002 civil war.

“It is as a result of our experiences of the past that we have invited ourselves into this Ebola struggle,” he said. 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs