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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs