International measures to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone have increased in recent weeks with the opening of a 92 bed Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town near Freetown, the raising of £13 million by the UK Disaster Emergency Committee and the pledge of $28.5 million by African business leaders meeting in Ethiopia. Still the virus continues to spread at an accelerating rate in Freetown and other areas of Sierra Leone, with a current (Nov 5th) official death toll of 1,130 and an unknown but undoubtedly higher realistic one.
FHM personnel are engaged in a range of activities up-country to help with the ongoing sensitization exercises and to provide direct support to individuals and families most affected by the disease. FHM Director, Ernest Sesay is working mainly in Tonkolili District where Ebola has been spreading rapidly over the past month. He writes as follows:
We are engaged in Tonkolili and we are hoping to open an interim care centre in Magburaka by next week. Freetown is now a hot spot as many people escape the quarantine districts and so risk bringing the virus into the city. So the number of cases in Freetown keeps on increasing. The situation is really desperate. So far Bumbuna is fine with no positive Ebola case. We are doing our best to support the task force in Bumbuna to redouble their response mechanism.
Amidst this traumatic situation there is at least a glimpse of hope! Among the cases discharged from the treatment centres, 14 were children and we are involved in mediating with their families to accept them back. We are presently doing the mediation and it is really positive.
Things are still uncertain here. Liberia seems to be moving positively. We hope we will begin to see some numbers climbing down too in Sierra Leone by November.
There is too much work in Tonkolili district. We have opened an office there and an interim care centre for orphaned children who have survived the virus but needs alternative care.
The situation in Sierra Leone is still uncertain. There are positive signs in the provinces, as we are beginning to see improvements in terms of numbers. But the capital city and a few other districts are still experiencing an increase in positive cases. We are very much hopeful that the situation will be contained by the end of the month or early December.
Abject poverty is rapidly destroying families, as many families find it difficult to raise enough money to buy a bag of rice. Our hope and prayer is that this difficult moment does not reach a saturation level where people will react in any shape or form to find food for their families.
The FHM is presently committed in its own way, working in the provinces where help is needed most. We have six social workers in the provinces working with quarantined homes, survivors and the different task forces in curbing the spread of the virus. We have rented a Centre with 7 rooms up country as an Interim Care Centre for orphans who have survived the virus. We are presently supporting children who have survived the virus and doing a lot of mediation to help them be reintegrated back to society.
We are doing our best and we hope the Good Lord sees us through this tragic moment.