Insights from Sierra Leoneans on Ebola via Twitter

Last week I was part of a group of Sierra Leoneans who participated in a Twitter chat,  hosted by myself @wcaworld, Joy Spencer @Joyful90802 Veralyn Williams @Veralynmedia and members of the Citizens Ebola Response community in Sierra Leone. This twitter chat was created out of a conversation I had with a close friend of mine back in Sierra Leone who is a medical doctor. When I found out about the campaign to help bring drugs to save the life of Dr. Modupe Cole (May his soul rest in peace). I asked her if she thought a twitter conversation could help spark the dialogue, and hopefully shed some light on some collective Sierra Leonean thoughts, she agreed so I proceeded and got others on board.

 The  conversation was focused on the  Ebola  epidemic and what we as Sierra Leoneans both in the diaspora and in Sierra Leone could do to help eradicate this terrible disease once and for all. The chat was quite enlightening and engaging and members were all truly invested in seeking not just solutions in the moment but also long term strategies that can be implemented so that such an epidemic doesn’t spread and take the lives of so many Sierra Leoneans as this current one.  I decided to document some of what I found to be  most intriguing conversations that came out of the one hour chat. As mentioned by one of the members on the chat Mr. Akindele Decker, I think is worth exploring further in different spaces be it research, activist, grassroots, governmental levels especially as it relates to prevention in the future.

  1. Concerning the medication Zmapp there was a lot of discomfort and scepticism around the administering of the medication . There was a serious point of debate on whether the medications should be administered if so by whom and for whom. Additionally many ethical issues and most people on the chat did not think it was a good idea to administer the medications during this crisis. If any medications are brought to Sierra Leone or West Africa in general, we must know what exactly we are signing up for. The medical trials need to be tested for a while and citizens must be given informed consent prior to any type of distribution. 
  2. It was heavily discussed at the early on set of the chat that technology needs to be at the fore front of detection of the virus. This was more specifically in relation to the new areas being infected to enable health officials and Sierra Leoneans to track trends, as well as track poor health facilities that need to be shut down in Freetown. 
  3. A wave of optimism swept across the chat when the question was asked about survivors of the disease, members tweeted various sources that showed the many victims who had survived the disease. From this I gathered that the success stories of survivors needs to be documented in order for more trust to be placed in the detection and  the curing of Ebola virus, which will in turn only help mitigate and hopefully lessen the cases of Ebola.  
  4. Governments need to be held accountable in the future for delayed responses to saving the lives of citizens. There was overall a sense of anger, urgency and frustration as per how the government handled the Ebola epidemic, as far as communication and implementing more vigilant preventative measures across the country. Comments overall ranged that governments should do their best in the future and set systems in place to ensure that the virus does not spread as well as make concerted efforts with their citizens to ensure life and well being for every Sierra Leonean.
  5. Most people on the chat geared towards the fact that prevention is key, and looking at the future of of the Sierra Leone health care system as a whole. The Ebola outbreak highlighted the broken systems that exist in our various countries. On that point members of the chat stressed that it was necessary to boost our education in the areas of science research. Emphasis was placed on having more technical and skilled medical workers to prepare for future outbreaks of such diseases that can be curtailed. The consensus around this point was that this could ultimately strengthen our health system and reduce reliance on the Western world for help.
  6. Sierra Leoneans and Africans shouldn’t be stigmatised, members of the Community Response Group emphasized that this is an education approach and that all Sierra Leoneans shouldn’t be stereotyped and treated as carrying Ebola.

For more on the conversation follow hashtag #stopebola14

DIASPORA EBOLA CAMPAIGN FORUM GLOBAL TELECONFERENCE

THE ALL SIERRA LEONE DIASPORA EBOLA CAMPAIGN FORUM: Every Saturday beginning this Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM EST, the All Sierra Leone Diaspora Ebola Campaign Forum will host a global teleconference forum. It is going to be a busy evening with an agenda full of information, news, analysis, and answers to the questions you have on your mind.

Here is the line-up:

Rev. Johannes George of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and Alhaji Alie Sesay of Maryland will lead us in prayers.

Ebola News Summary

Ebola Cases Updates: We will bring you news update on the Ebola crisis and an up-to-date statistics (confirmed cases, deaths, survivors, and patients) and analysis of Ebola cases.

We will have the following guests on the program:

Dr. Sulaiman Jabati Wai, Physician, Catholic Mission Hospital, Panguma, Kailahun—Connected live from Kailahun, Dr. Wai will share with us his experience as a practicing physician at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak
Mr. Amadu Masallay, Coordinator for Open Government Partnership (OGP), Government of Sierra Leone—From Maryland, Mr. Masallay will talk about government initiatives to engage the diaspora during the Ebola Campaign
Dr. Austin Demby, United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), worked with late Dr. Sheik Umar Khan at the Kenema Ebola Treatment Center—from Washington, Dr. Demby will share with us his experience at the Kenema Treatment Center and CDC’s contribution to the Ebola containment effort
Mr. Kalilu Totangi, Director of Communication, the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)—Mr. Totangi will describe the role of the opposition in working with the government to fight Ebola
Mr. Sidie Yayah Tunis, Spokesman, Ministry of Health, Sierra Leone—Connected live from Freetown, Sierra Leone, Mr. Tunis will share information about MOH’s Ebola Campaign efforts and answer your questions

We will also bring you recorded interviews of medical practitioners, ordinary Sierra Leoneans, local leaders and government authorities on the ground in Sierra Leone.

Representatives of the following organizations will be present to share information about their Ebola Campaign efforts:

Ms. Yolanda Thompson, Esq.—Diaspora Response to Ebola
Mr. Ahmed Kargbo–Ebola Action Plan
Mr. Momoh Vandi–Tegloma USA
Fr. Johanness Goerge–Episcopal Diocese of Texas

Note that our listening audience will have the opportunity to ask our guests questions. See our call in numbers for your local area and access code included below or attached to this email/post.

By:

Mustapha Wai
Moderator and Co-host

Jesmed Suma
Co-host

Ebola Conference Access Numbers

The Washington Post | Ebola striking women more frequently than men

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Excerpt from article

When a family member is sick and is tended at home, women cook and serve food to the sick, clean after them and wash their clothes,” said Suafiatu Tunis, a spokesperson for Community Response Group, a grass-roots initiative to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone and a leader of the Social Mobilization Committee on Ebola that reports to the National Task Force. “This role is extended to the medical field, where women are mostly nurses and cleaners at hospitals and do not get the same support and protection as doctors, who are predominantly men.”

To Read More Visit HERE

PowerWomen232 – A Community Action Response

PowerWomen 232 is a newly formed network for women professionals in Sierra Leone. The network aims to bring professional women together to promote career advancement, leadership development of women entrepreneurs and professionals in all fields through networking, professional development, leadership, social events and community service

Do something wonderful for Sierra Leone today, say ‘thank you’ to the frontline workers in our fight against Ebola

Let’s come together and fight Ebola together…because it is possible
Because it is possible to kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone.

The Ebola outbreak is everyone’s problem, donate items for care packages… Let’s say, tenki,THANK YOU we appreciate, God will bless you for all your sacrifices.
Items needed: Soap, toothpaste, tea, milk, sardine, ovaltine, sugar, luncheon meat, cheese, juice, biscuit, sweet, oat, glucose biscuits,

We are also requesting donations of ‘Thank You’ cards, baskets and clear plastic wraps. Ebola out of Sierra

The images below show the first set of care packages assembled.

For more information about Power232 please Contact Ariana Oluwole +232 76350548

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When the community gathers | Education on Ebola in Murray Town

Zainab Tunkara Clarkson a Community Response Group (CRG) member along with her community based group MurrayTong Pikin spent the day with 75 people from  the Murray Town community to talk about Ebola. The educational session saw to the gathering of community police, representatives from community churches and mosques, market women and other business owners to gain a better understanding about Ebola and important preventative measures community members must take.

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35 buckets and chlorine donated by the Murraytong Pikin  group was given to participants to help support a responsive approach to taking preventative measures in light of the Ebola outbreak.

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To the organisers and community members – thank you for listening, sharing, learning, growing and pushing for collective action to contain and end the Ebola Outbreak in Sierra Leone.

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Every action goes a long way. Learn, share, connect, act.

CRG