Field Notes

Sierra Leone's Quarantine Update

by: Sara Banks
September 23, 2014

As Sierra Leone geared up for the three-day national quarantine, the country’s president, Dr. Ernest B. Koroma, addressed the nation via television September 18. In his address, he spoke extensively on the impact of the virus in a nation that has scarcely emerged from a decade-long civil war. He pleaded that all should be supportive of government and international intervention to win the fight against Ebola.

The government assigned 28,544 people to visit homes over the three-day period to promote community acceptance of affected Ebola patients and hand washing. This ‘Ose to ‘Ose (house-to-house) campaign aimed to target 1.5 million households, with the expectation of 20 percent (364) new cases. As a result, massive sensitization and education was done on the treatment, symptoms, and prevention of Ebola to over 80 percent of targeted households. Media sources state that more than 200 bodies and at least 150 new cases were uncovered during this period. Many who were sick voluntarily came out for help, and family members refused to hide sick relatives but instead called the emergency line for help. More dead bodies were discovered and buried in a timely fashion, instead of waiting two to five days for test results.

Our Living Water Sierra Leone staff shared with us that the lockdown weekend was not without challenges, however. The exercise did not actually target the quarantined houses with food and non-food supplies, as many believed it would. Reports reaching the media say that Ebola orphans did not get the required care and attention they needed. Health facilities were ill equipped and unprepared to handle the barrage of case loads, and pregnant women and children who were already admitted at hospitals were typically neglected. Prices of basic commodities skyrocketed on the eve of the lockdown—adding stress to an already challenging situation.

Thank you so much for praying with us, and we praise God that the weekend was overall successful. As this virus continues to rapidly spread, we know the fight is far from over. Please continue to pray for our team in Sierra Leone as they prepare to respond to the requests from the government to provide new wells in affected areas, one of which is aiming to be at the new Ebola Isolation Center, currently under construction at Kerry Town in the Western Rural area.

Your help is critically needed—please consider making a donation today to provide clean water and other necessary activities during this crisis.

Published September 24, 2014