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President Koroma

The president of the republic of sierra Leone at the declaration of the end of the Ebola outbreak disease in Sierra Leone, Bintumani conference centre Freetown 7 Novemver 2015

My fellow Sierra Leoneans

Today, Sierra Leone marks the end of the Ebola outbreak. We give thanks to Almighty God, and I stand here humbled by the dedication of Ebola Response Workers, whose heroism is without parallel in the history of our country.

As I traversed the length and breadth of our country during the outbreak, their heroism greatly inspired me; seeing their bravery first hand in treatment centres all over the country reinvigorated me; and I vowed again and again to do all in my life to end this scourge. Because of them, I stand here today as your Head of State to say that we prevailed over an evil virus, that we persevered, and that we have overcome.

The disease challenged the very foundations of our humanity. We had to change the way we grew up caring for sick relatives; the way we mourned loved ones; the way we showed affectionwhen greeting each other. And we complied with necessary but difficult restrictions on movement and traditional practices.

Sierra Leone did not know about this disease; the world at large was astounded by the ferocity of the virus in our sub-region. Everybody was learning new facts about Ebola, and some of the advice we received from the experts at the earlier stages of the outbreak proved less effective in fighting the virus. By the time the experts mastered the tools to attack the evil virus in our region, too many lives had been lost, too many wrong turns made; too many actions taken that intensified the isolation of our country and halted the great strides we were taking to improve the economic and social life of our people.

Every district and most chiefdoms have had first hand experience of this terrible disease. A total of 8,704 Sierra Leoneans were infected during the outbreak and we lost 3,589 of our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and our sons and daughters. We lost 221 healthcare workers including 11 doctors. I pause to remember all those who lost their lives and I pay special tribute to our healthcare workers and other Ebola Response Workers who made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives as they tried to save the lives of others. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

Their deaths were very low moments for us, but we kept on fighting. We still kept coming forward to join the fight as healthcare workers, as hygienists, burial team members, lab technicians, swabbers, surveillance officers, social mobilisers, ambulance and non-ambulance drivers and motorbike riders. In total over 35,000 Sierra Leoneans were formally registered as Ebola Response Workers and there were many more who volunteered to serve in the fight without recognition or acclaim. We salute these volunteers who served in various capacities within our surveillance system, manning checkpoints, and telephone hotlines, digging graves, and counselling the sick and bereaved.

We also owe our victory over Ebola to the extraordinary actions of the international community. We remain grateful for their solidarity, their heroism, and the bravery of the thousands of international Ebola Response Workers who answered to our call for action against the greatest enemy our country has ever seen.

We are victorious because of the truly amazing role played by communities all over the country. From Kailahun where the outbreak started to Bombali where the outbreak ended, communities achieved extraordinary feats in the face of great adversity.

All of these efforts made us get better at fighting the disease. With these efforts, the world has come to know better about the Ebola Virus Disease, with these efforts, the International health community, the World Health Organization and other global health partners now know how to scramble emergency responses to global health pandemics.With these efforts we built a strong response system; and our countries are now prepared to deal with these problems at the onset of early warning signs.

We have also been able to make considerable progress in treating the disease.Earlier on the accepted dictum was hopelessness, we were told that you had a 90% chance of dying as there was no known cure. Now we average a 70% chance of survival just by providing the mechanisms for early detection and management of prospective cases.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, we declared a State of Emergency because the very existence of the country was at stake. Today, I have commenced discussions with the leadership of Parliament to end the State of Emergency.

But we should never lower our guard.

I fully endorse the WHO recommendation for enhanced surveillance to continue in Sierra Leone for the next 90 days. The Ebola outbreak has ended in Sierra Leone but we must remain vigilant and we must remain alert.

The history of Ebola in other countries has taught us that we must be prepared for a re-emergence of the disease in the future. My Government is therefore committed to maintaining an enduring response capability even after the Ebola outbreak is over. We will retain adequate laboratory testing capacity and an appropriate number of isolation beds and treatment beds; we are confident that we now have the systems in place to ensure that we can respond rapidly and effectively in the event of a re-emergence.

We must continue to sustain the new habits of hygiene, sanitation, and vigilance. To fully secure our victory, we must continue with the newer and better ways of caring for the sick, the healthier ways of handling the dead, and the progressive habits of hygiene, sanitation and vigilance that helped us defeat the virus.

During the outbreak, our traditional healers supported the response and agreed to a moratorium on their practices. My Government is committed to working with traditional healers to introduce safer practices in the conduct of their work.

Before the outbreak, our nation was on the verge of its greatest economic breakthrough. We were in the middle of the biggest infrastructural development in the country and we were constructing roads everywhere. We were being hailed for sustaining our peace, strengthening our reforms, promoting diversity of voices in our media, and bringing more youths and women into decision making positions.

The Ebola outbreak halted actions on many of these areas. It is a testament to the resilience of all of us that whilst the outbreak reversed our economic prospects, dented job creation, and slowed the pace of road construction and other infrastructural development, we sustained our peace, subjected our actions to the judgement of the courts, and got competent bodies to scrutinize the management of resources. Democrats should not be afraid to subject themselves to the scrutiny of the courts, the Auditor General, and Parliament. And citizens of our country must bring forth their opinions with firm regards for truth, civility, the right of others, and concerns for the peace and security of Sierra Leone. We salute all those civil society activists, all those journalists, all those Paramount Chiefs and traditional and cultural heads, religious heads, musicians, political parties, lawyers, youths, women, chiefs,councillors, and MPs who acted to sustain our democracy during the outbreak, and whose actions strengthen our response and helped defeat the virus.

I salute our security forces; we are ever grateful to our soldiers and police officers for their services as health workers, engineers, surveillance officers, guards in quarantine homes,borders and checkpoints, and all other enforcers of law and order during this most difficult period in our nation’s history. I applaud the business community, construction workers, the teachers, the market women, the bankers and public servants who braved the hazards of the outbreak to sustain our lives and secure many of our achievements. I acknowledge with gratitude the dedication and commitment of the Ministry of Health and the NERC to ending the outbreak. We are grateful to the Sierra Leone Diaspora, who acted for mother Sierra Leone by providing resources to families and communities, and expertise to the national fight.

The fightwas long and the road was challenging. And many a time, in the frustrations of loss, tragedy, and the seeming intractability of the disease, falsehoods and untruths were uttered, communities and groups wrongly accused and people’s character unjustly tarnished. A new beginning requires leaving behind those weaker aspects of our words and actions; a new beginning requires forgiveness of those moments of despair. This is why I have requested the Attorney General to, within that which is allowed by law, discontinue action or end punitive measures against those who had acted contrary to the regulations set forth in the State of Emergency.

But the new beginning also warrants us to hold unto the better practices, the just scrutiny of actions, more civil discussions of events in the media, and putting this country back on the road to economic development that pays greater attention to the details of health, hygiene and sanitation at the personal, the school, the community and national levels. The new beginning warrants that traditional practices that have a negative impact on health, and which were discontinued during the outbreak, should not be returned to

Our Post Ebola Recovery Programme is inspired by this warrant for a new beginning. We defeated Ebola because wepaid great attention to details.We prevailed over the evil virus because we increased our professionalism in handling the sick, and in burying the dead and protecting ourselves against hazards. I witnessed this first hand in many of the more successful treatment centres I visited. No one is above the regulations put in place in those centres; no one should be above the protocols put in place to promote the sacred interests of this country. We will continue to empower the Audit Service to probe into the management of resources, we will continue to call on Parliament to hold all to account, we will continue to respect civil discourses in our media. These are our pledges for the new beginning; I am personally overseeing the Post Ebola Recovery Programme as Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Transition and Recovery. As I did during the fight against Ebola, holding briefings everyday and traversing the length and breadth of our country, I will pay close attention to the details of the recovery.

We have already started the implementation of the programme priorities for health, education, social protection, energy, water and economic recovery. Over the past four months, we have:

As we look ahead, we are driving forward with plans to:

In addition, we remain committed to on-going work to support survivors. This includes a comprehensive package of support for Ebola survivors, including free healthcare and psychosocial support. Our 4,051 EVD survivors are our heroes. They have shown great courage in overcoming the disease, and a great many of them have shown heroism in contributing to the Ebola response. There must therefore be no place for stigmatisation or isolation of our survivors. It is the duty of all Sierra Leoneans to ensure that these heroes are reintegrated into our communities.

We have taken steps to cushion the economic impact of the outbreak on our people. We have increased salaries by 15%, supported 23,000 vulnerable families with cash transfers, and we provided grants to local councils and gave them the flexibility to utilise the funds in fighting Ebola in their communities. To increase employment prospects for our youths, and stimulate the economy, we resumed suspended infrastructure projects, and restarted the reconstruction of major streets in Freetown. We have also been able to mobilize financial resources to meet some of the shortfalls in government revenues occasioned by decline in economic activities during the outbreak. We are also working with investors to resume iron ore mining and other operations within the next few months.

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, we must give thanks to God almighty for our victory over Ebola, we must ask for God’s blessings on those who lost their lives during the outbreak, and we must recognize the immense sacrifice and heroism of our Ebola Response workers. With the approval of our religious leaders, I hereby declare Saturday November 21, 2015 as our national thanks giving day; and by the powers conferred on me as President I also declare Friday 18th Decemberas a day of recognition of Ebola Response workers. Whilst we will be giving National Awards to Ebola Response workers on that day, our greatest actions will be to sustain the success of their heroism by committing ourselves to a new beginning for our country.

This new beginning calls for greater attention to the details of our habits - from our attitudes towards our own bodies to our increased attention for family, community and national safety and security. The new beginning calls for sustaining the collaborations across families, communities, chiefdoms, districts and regions that got us to defeat Ebola; the new beginning warrants greater attention to the needs of the vulnerable amongst us - the Ebola Survivor, the orphan, and the widow. But more than ever before, the new beginning calls for greater watchfulness and resilience in the face of the great threats facing our world – climate change, evil viruses, intolerant fanatics and newer forms of crime. Great opportunities beckon.We must utilize the watchfulness and resilience we have acquired in fightingEbola to grab the great opportunities that are available to a determined nation. We are a people of great determination; we are a country dedicated to Unity, Justice and Freedom. May our vigilance bring forth the fruits of these great ideals; and may the lessons we have learned during this outbreakguide our dedication to making our country better than ever before.

God Bless Sierra Leone

ADDRESS ON SURVIVORS

My fellow Sierra Leoneans,

Today is Day 21 of our national countdown to 42 days when the World shall Declare our country Ebola-Free.

This marks a significant milestone in our nation’s fight against the Ebola Virus Disease. We have made tremendous progress; we have no doubt that victory is within our reach.

This shall be a victory for every Sierra Leonean and our international partners. We stood side by side through a challenging period in our nation’s history. Through collaboration between our Ebola response workers, our survivors, our traditional leaders, our religious leaders and our wider communities, we faced a common enemy and we are prevailing. All Sierra Leoneans should be extremely proud of what we have achieved together.

A little over a month ago, when new cases emerged in Kambia and Bombali, we saw misinformation, rumours, and people pointing the finger of blame at survivors.

I am deeply concerned by this. It is important that we all put aside fear and ignorance, and understand the facts about Ebola.

The single most important fact about our over 4,000 survivors is that each and every one of them is a hero. They have shown heroism in overcoming the disease, and many of them have shown heroism in contributing to the Ebola response. A few weeks ago in Bombali, it was survivors who protected others from the risks of close contact with an EVD patient.

There are other important facts. We know that it is safe to work with our survivors and to go to school with them. We know that it is safe to buy fruit from survivors in the market, and to sit next to them. We know that it is safe to worship alongside our survivors in the churches and in the mosques. We know it is safe to be close to our survivors.

But there are some facts that are less well understood, and that have been causing confusion and fear. Because there has never been an Ebola epidemic like this before, there is still much that even our best experts are not yet sure of in relation to this disease.

We do know that over time all traces of the virus leave the bodies of survivors; we do know that the vast majority of our survivors already have no trace of the virus; but we do not yet know how long it takes for every trace of the virus to disappear from our population. The latest scientific evidence tells us that traces of the virus can persist in a small minority of male survivors. Survivors and all of us must be aware of this to better protect everyone involved in intimate relationships.

Last week’s launch of Project Shield by the National Ebola Response Centre is a positive step towards honoring this commitment to survivors. Project Shield will identify all EVD survivors, give them ID cards, and train survivor advocates to provide individual and peer group support to survivors. The programme will also provide basic medical care and establish testing facilities in three districts. Project Shield is a national programme but it will be introduced in a phased manner, starting with those districts that have the highest number of survivors who were most recently discharged. Those districts are Western Area, Port Loko and Bombali.

We fight Ebola together and we win together. Surviving Ebola is a victory for families, for communities and for all of Sierra Leone. There is no place for stigmatisation or isolation of our survivors. They are our family members, neighbours and friends, and they have played and continue to play a vital role in our Ebola response.

The end is in sight but we are not yet at the end. Until Sierra Leone and our sister country, Guinea get to 42 days, we must remain vigilant and not lower our guard. We will sustain the rapid response capacity to deal with any flare-ups of the disease. We will continue to swab all dead bodies to enable us to be certain that we have not missed a single case. We must continue to call 117 to report the sick and the dead in our households and communities. I cannot stress enough that we must not touch or wash dead bodies. As I have said before, it is only by doing these right things that we can be sure of a resilient zero.

I thank all Sierra Leoneans for the commitment you have shown, and for the sacrifices you have made to get our country to this point in the fight against Ebola. If all of us continue to work together, and to be vigilant, and determined, I remain confident in our victory.

STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. ERNEST BAI KOROMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE AT THE 70TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NEW YORK – TUESDAY, 29TH SEPTEMBER 2015

Mr. President,

Colleague Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Delegates

I congratulate you most warmly, Mr. President, on your election to conduct the affairs of this Assembly during this historic 70th Session. I assure you of my personal support as well as that of Sierra Leone during your tenure.

Let me also convey my sincere appreciation to your predecessor, His Excellency Hon. Sam Kutesa of the Republic of Uganda, for the effective manner in which he conducted the previous Session.  

I profoundly commend the Secretary-General, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his constructive leadership of this Organization. Sierra Leone will continue to support the progressive implementation of his laudable Action Agenda. We welcome his synthesis Report which articulates a "call to action to transform our world beyond 2015”.

Mr. President,

Seventy years ago, we committed ourselves “…to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” Today, this is still our task and common goal, and the very foundation upon which our shared and common values are firmly embedded and should therefore be respected.

It is in the pursuit of this task and shared values that, fifteen years ago, the Millennium Declaration articulated a bold vision to eradicate extreme poverty, promote gender equality, and ensure that children everywhere receive basic education.

Together, we have achieved a lot - getting millions out of poverty, getting millions into schools, and breaking many barriers to the empowerment of women. But our achievements are works in progress; our organization is a work in progress. Many challenges remain. Many actions need to be taken in the offices of our organization; many actions must also be taken in the fields, where the citizens of the world live their lives. The two are interlinked, without changes within the structures of our global organization our actions in the fields will be hindered by lack of ownership, lack of inclusion, and lack of irreversible successes.

This is why we commend you for the choice and relevance of the theme of this Session: “The United Nations at 70 – A New Commitment to Action”.

We have put forward negotiating positions for reforms of our organization, we have drawn up plans for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and we have adopted the Financing for Development Framework in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July this year. What is left now is action on all of these fronts; action to reform our organization, commencing action in fields where there is as yet no action; taking action to overcome challenges, and continuing action to sustain, deepen and expand our achievements.

The unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and its accompanying challenges are critical to the work that lies ahead. We have learned lessons that are invaluable, made progress that is undeniable; but the challenges we still face are the equivalence of millions not going to school, millions not having healthcare; millions of women oppressed, and millions of people having their rights and lives trampled in the war zones and refugee routes of the world. The challenges have the urgency of a life and death situation for millions.

What we see all over the world - in the refugee crises, in the fight against poverty, in the fight against trans-national organized crime, terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, piracy, violence against women; what we see in our actions for human rights, and in the efforts for expanding access to health and education; what we see in all these are struggles for inclusion in the better achievements of humanity – achievements of security, safety, peace, education, health, development. Where there is exclusion, people seek inclusion. The poor seek inclusion in a fairer world, the refugee seeks inclusion in a safer world, and we believe the SDG is about building a fairer, safer and better world for those excluded from the great achievements of humanity.

Mr. President,

Making our global organization more democratic, more participatory and fairer is part of the struggle for inclusion the world over; it is a prerequisite for achieving our universal aspirations under the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

As the Coordinator of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State on UN Security Council Reform, I take this opportunity to once more emphasize the need for urgent reform of the Council and once again re-echo Africa’s concern over the continuous failure of this body to adopt measures that will lead to a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.

I wish to call attention to the regrettable status quo that undermines the principles of equity, legitimacy, accountability and transparency. It also undermines the effectiveness of the Security Council in its pursuit of international peace and security. The need to address the non-representation of Africa in the Permanent category and the under-representation in the Non-permanent category is long overdue and therefore now imperative. Africa’s demand for two Permanent seats and two additional Non-permanent seats as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration is just and provides a framework for a fairer and more inclusive United Nations.

I welcome the recent decision by the General Assembly to further the intergovernmental negotiation process and do hope for a meaningful furtherance of consensus building mechanism during the course of this 70th Session.

Mr. President,

Sierra Leone is very committed to promoting inclusion in governance, inclusion in development, and supporting peace around the world. And we shall continue to support initiatives for the sustenance and expansion of democracy, peace and security in Africa in particular, and in the world at large.

The contribution of Sierra Leone to the United Nations peacekeeping efforts demonstrates our strong commitment to global peace and stability. We acknowledge the Report of the High-Level Independent Review Panel on Peacekeeping Operations in all its aspects. And we stand ready to explore further means to increase our contribution to global peacekeeping to enhance the success of UN peacekeeping operations.

I take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the men and women in uniform, as well as civilian staff who continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice to serve humanity in complex and dangerous environments around the world. We totally condemn attacks against United Nations peacekeepers, and we call for action against the perpetrators of these cowardly acts.

The Report of the Advisory Group of Experts on the Review of the Peace-building Architecture and its recommendations is a useful document that informs lessons learned, best practices, and challenges going forward with preventing and relapse into violent conflict. We look forward to a constructive engagement during the intergovernmental process within the context of Sierra Leone being one of the case studies and a store-house of lessons learned.

We applaud our collective establishment of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) to carry out the continuing legal obligations of the original Special Court. Given the profile of persons convicted by the Court, currently serving prison sentences under the supervision of the Residual Court, it is in the interest of international peace and security as well as ensuring justice that we sustain support to the effective operations of the Residual Court to enable it to fully deliver on its mandate.

Mr. President,

From terrorism to climate change, disease, and refugees, no country is immune from the challenges facing the world at large. Some countries may be able to stave off some of these problems from their shores. However, our globalized world have increased the routes through which these challenges move from country to country, from one region to another, from one group of people to another. That is why we cannot say a particular problem is only a problem for this country or that region. Poorer countries suffer disproportionately from particular problems, but without support from the world to solve them, the problems evolve to haunt other regions, other countries, and other groups. This is the wisdom that we need to integrate into decision making in every country, every region and every global organization.

This is the wisdom we need to integrate into our decisions about climate change. Changes in the weather patterns in the Pacific and ocean currents in the North Atlantic are unleashing devastating floods all over. A week and half ago, we witnessed floods hitherto unseen in Sierra Leone, leading to devastation in many parts of our capital Freetown. Storms rage in the Cape Verde Islands, floods ravaged other parts of West Africa. We believe in our experts’ attribution of these disasters to man-made climate change. We call for action not only to lower emissions of greenhouse gases implicated in these changes, but also action to shore up capacities to deal with the effects of climate change. No country, I reiterate, is immune from the physical, social, health, insecurity and other consequences of climate change. We need to integrate this insight into our decisions about other urgent matters - youth unemployment, insecurity, extreme hunger, violence against women, transnational organized crime and piracy. Letting them out of control in vulnerable nations today increases the vulnerability of all nations.

Africa has made tremendous efforts to strengthen the continent’s capacity for preventing and resolving conflicts. Countries in the global South have also been at the forefront of finding solutions and providing reliefs from the miseries of the world. They host more refugees than other lands; they contribute more personnel to peacekeeping missions. What is imperative is global solidarity in building capacity in our regions to better handle these challenges. Without this solidarity, the challenges would jump borders; evade immigration controls, jump over walls. This is why we need cooperative and coordinated partnerships to strengthen capacities to respond to these challenges. Our voice as fragile and conflict affected states under the g7+ is a call for country ownership and country-led implementation of the SDGs

Mr. President,

Since 2012, Sierra Leone proactively tailored its development framework to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our vision for socio-economic development as contained in my government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) III, and articulated in the “Agenda for Prosperity” (A4P), was launched in July 2013 as Sierra Leone’s roadmap to the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Agenda for Prosperity aims to build a sustainable future for all Sierra Leoneans. It demonstrates our firm commitment towards putting Sierra Leone on the path to resilience and sustainability.

We have to that end, recorded significant progress in strengthening political and economic governance, including improvement in social indicators. My government has continued to place emphasis on the protection of the basic rights of the people of Sierra Leone. We have put in place comprehensive reforms in the justice sector in response to both national and global demands to ensure that the rights of citizens are preserved and that access to justice is accorded to all. The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone closely collaborates with the Government in building an entrenched culture of human rights and in ensuring that the Government ratifies several outstanding international treaties and protocols as well as fulfilling its varied reporting obligations.

We have undertaken specific reform measures to improve the national investment climate. My Government is keen on delivering results on several priority areas including infrastructural development, commercialized agriculture, improved access to education and health care services, youth empowerment and employment, women’s empowerment, effective and efficient public service delivery and the social as well as political integration of persons with disabilities.

Mr. President,

At a time when Sierra Leone was being commended for its remarkable progress in peace stability and steady economic growth we were hit by the unprecedented Ebola Virus outbreak. The Ebola Virus disease outbreak has taken a heavy toll on the entire socio-economic fabric of Sierra Leone. But with support from our international friends, we fought back. Today, we have almost defeated the evil virus – only one case of Ebola was recorded in the country for the whole of August. And we have recorded zero number of cases for several days in September. Whilst we are making progress to end the epidemic, I commend the United Nations Agencies and the international community for their support and commitment to end the epidemic as well as support for the Post-Ebola Recovery Plan.

I particularly commend the Secretary General for mobilizing, for the very first time, a coordinated and integrated UN system intervention to support countries affected by the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in our region. In addition to the containment of the epidemic, the intervention by the UN and our partners has resulted in enhancing our preparedness to respond to similar outbreaks in the future. This is a useful model that can be applied to contain and tackle pandemics wherever they may surface.

In order to guarantee a lasting recovery, my Government in collaboration with our sister Republics of Guinea and Liberia, have also formulated a sub-regional post-Ebola socio-economic recovery plan to ensure that the three most Ebola affected countries return to the path of stability and prosperity.

The Sierra Leone national recovery plan is based on two main pillars. The first pillar addresses immediate recovery activities that would help in getting to and maintaining zero infections. The second pillar focuses on building national systems of resilience and sustainability that include a viable health system and the establishment of integrated national security and disaster risk management system(s).

With a considerable measure of satisfaction, I must state that the commitment demonstrated by the international community in supporting the Ebola recovery plans has been very encouraging. On behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone, allow me Mr. President, to once again applaud our development partners for their unflinching commitment to supporting Sierra Leone’s development aspirations. Sierra Leone is poised and ready to continue working with the international community to regain its pre-Ebola development trajectory. We look forward to strengthening partnerships for effective implementation of our Post-Ebola Recovery Plans, both national and sub-regional.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, as our noble organization celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, it is important to reflect on its Charter, which reaffirms the “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large or small”.

With the commitment of leaving no one behind, it is essential that we objectively follow a pragmatic approach, with renewed vigor and commitment, to provide for our people a future that would guarantee justice, sustainable peace and security, strengthened accountable and democratic governance, employment opportunities, the transparent and equitable distribution of wealth, a safe and sustainable environment, improved health and relevant education. It is also important that conflicts are resolved around the world, if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved, as there can be no development without peace.

Together, with a firmer resolve, let us rise to this challenge and act towards a fairer, safer and better world.

I thank you for your attention.

President Koroma gives direction on the future of NERC

President Koroma gives direction on the future of NERC

In a meeting involving the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC);the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS); the Office of National Security (ONS); the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender, and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA); and key partners including the Inter-Agency Collaboration on Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO); Centre for Disease Control and Prevention; and the UK government,His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma expressed a desire to see the continuation of the NERC and associated District Ebola Response Centres (DERCs) until 31 December 2015 and the full handover of responsibilities for all public health emergencies to MoHSand management of disasters to ONS on 1 January 2016.

WHO will declare the current outbreak over in Sierra Leone after it records zero cases for 42 consecutive days after the last Ebola patient is discharged after testing negative for the virus or the last patient dies and is given a safe and dignified burial. Recent epidemiological trends have been encouraging. While Sierra Leone remains vigilant and in active response mode, the country is hopeful of a declaration of an end to the current outbreak soon.

However, while this will be a welcome development for all Sierra Leoneans, uncertainty remains as to when the Mano River Union subregion as a whole will achieve zero Ebola While trends are encouraging, also playing on Sierra Leonean government officials’ minds was Liberia’s recent experience. The country saw a new cluster of Ebola cases nearly two months after WHO had declared an end to the Liberia Ebola outbreak.

Furthermore, WHO’s Phase Three strategy to address the current Ebola outbreak in Mano River Union countries—which has been a strong influence on government of Sierra Leone thinking and policy—has emphasizedaddressing residual risks of the re-emergence of Ebola. The President noted that as of now, studies have been inconclusive as to what precisely is the level and nature of the risks posed, for instance, by the presence of the Ebola virus in some survivors.

Therefore, as a precautionary measure, the government of Sierra Leone, directed by His Excellency, has decided to retain the current Ebola structures until the end of 2015. By law, the ONS retains overall responsibility for coordination of all aspects of disaster management—including preparedness, risk reduction, response, and recovery. MoHSis establishing new and reinforcing existing public health emergency structures, systems, and processes. MSWGCA has responsibility for child protection, gender and psychosocial needs.

While current Ebola response structures will be retained, as the Ebola threat recedes, the government of Sierra Leone will “rightsize” NERC and DERC personnel with two key objectives in mind. First, as the Ebola threat has receded but not disappeared entirely, NERC/DERCs will need to retain the capability to respond to any new outbreak with speed, precision, and with clear command, control, and coordination structures and capacity. Second, capabilities and assets acquired by NERC/DERCs in the fight against Ebola must be transitioned responsibly to successor institutions.All asset transfers will take place transparently with the active consent of donating parties. Capabilities in particular will be transferred through redeployment of key personnel, job shadowing, training, briefings, lesson learning exercises, workshops, etc.

There will be a follow-up meeting in two weeks’ time to apprise His Excellency the President of more specific details and plans for implementation of this transition process. The President continues to urge the public to maintain vigilance in the face of the ongoing Ebola threat the country faces.

He Address to the Nation 6th August 2015

It has been just over one year since I declared a National State of Emergency as our country was confronted with an outbreak on an unprecedented scale.  Over the months that followed that declaration, our healthcare workers, our Ebola Response volunteers and our communities, working in close collaboration with our international partners have battled with vigilance and determination to overcome the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic.  We have made tremendous gains and today we have just 4 confirmed cases nationwide and only two transmission chains. 9 of the 14 districts have had not recorded a confirmed case for in excess of 110 days.

When I addressed you on the issue of restrictions related to Ebola in June, we experienced upsurges of cases in Kambia and Port Loko Districts. I am happy to note the successes of Operation Northern Push in tackling these events and today both districts have recorded 26 days with no new cases. This is a clear demonstration of how with sustained community engagement and the backing of appropriate healthcare support we can beat this disease.

But we are not yet out of the woods.

In the last two weeks we have recorded three cases in Tonkolili District, a district which had gone over 150 days without a case. We still have over 500 contacts to monitor from those cases. We are monitoring them for at least 21 days to ensure that if they develop symptoms, we can quickly move them to a facility for testing.

It is credit to Sierra Leoneans that you have complied with the exceptional regulations and restrictions my government has implemented on advice from the world’s leading epidemiologists from the World Health Organization and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sierra Leone did not experience this Ebola epidemic alone. Our sister countries and neighbours, Guinea and Liberia were also badly affected by the same deadly viral disease.  And Ebola is a very stubborn disease, and our experts tell us that it usually comes back to places that are declared Ebola free. We have seen this happen in our sister Republic of Liberia. This was a reminder to us in Sierra Leonethat even as we strive to get to zero, we shall have to remain vigilant and on our guard in anticipation of any future Ebola outbreaks. Together we must remain the eyes and ears in this fight. 

So I say again that we have made progress but we still have more work to do.

Only after we have recorded 42 successive days of zero cases after the last Ebola patient has been tested negative will the World Health Organization declare the Ebola outbreak over in Sierra Leone. Until that point, my government deems it wise to maintain in force key restrictions to protect public health.

However, some measures are no longer deemed necessary at this stage of the fight. My government will lift the following restrictions with immediate effect:

  1. The prohibition on public meetings and gatherings is lifted.
  2. The prohibition on sporting activities is lifted
  3. The prohibition of nightclubs and video centres operating is lifted.
  4. The prohibition on market and general activities is lifted. However, the ban on markets and general trading on Sundays shall remain in place.
  5. Okadas to operate from 6 am to midnight daily

These restrictions are eased, provided venues and facilities adhere to all Ebola Prevention Protocols, including temperature screening of employees and customers, hand-washing and prevention of overcrowding. Failure to observe these essential public health measures will result in the closure or barring of activities.

However, in view of the challenges we still face with incidences of unsafe burial, and the need for quarantining and placing restrictions on large number of persons who may be contacts of persons with Ebola, I hereby proclaim another state of Public Emergency as per law provided.

Through the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), my government is still consulting with stakeholders and international technical experts and partners on changes to the safe and dignified burial policy. The CEO of NERC will announce more on this shortly. Let me stress that pending this announcement, there are as yet no changes to the burial practice.

The Ebola epidemic has been a devastating challenge to Sierra Leone. However, we can emerge stronger and wiser. I cannot stress enough the importance that we stay the course.

The easing of restrictions is not a sign that Ebola is over. It is not. We must remain on our guard. The risk has receded but Ebola has not fully retreated. We must stay the course. 

We must all remain vigilant in our households and communities. We must continue to call 117 to report the sick and the dead in our households and communities and provide the right information to Ebola response workers who visit our communities to investigate cases. We must continue to implement the safe and dignified burials policy. It is only by doing these right things that we can be sure of a resilient zero.

I thank you all for your continued cooperation. Together, we shall overcome this scourge of a disease, recover, and resume our path to prosperity and development.

 

 

 

 

 

Republic of Sierra Leone H. E. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma launch of the post – Ebola Recovery Programme 24th July, 2015

post ebolaCourtesies
A little over a year ago, we were attacked by an evil new enemy called Ebola.
We did not understand this enemy, most of the world did not understand this enemy, and all of us did not see it coming to this part of the world. This vicious enemy brought about the death of over 3500 of our compatriots, stopped our economic growth, and reversed many of our gains in the health system. Farms were neglected; markets abandoned; trade and travel contracted; fiscal balances weakened; revenue decreased; and expenditure shut up to combat the disease.
But we fought back, with support from our international partners and the resilience of our health workers and people, today we are on the verge of conquering this enemy. We have had many cases when there were zero cases across the nation; 10 of 14 districts have gone over 90 days without a case; and three districts - Pujehun, Kailahun and Bonthe- have registered no cases since the beginning of the year.
Today, we are here to formally launch our battle plan not only to finally defeat the virus and get to zero, but also to ensure that the virus stays defeated. This means we need greater vigilance on Ebola now, we need to be prepared and resilient in the health sector and we need to restore lives and livelihoods to people who have suffered for over a year. That is why in the first nine months, our recovery plan emphasizes delivering on four major priority sectors –first, health; second, education; third, social protection; and revamping the economy and livelihoods by facilitating private sector recovery and growth.
Beyond the immediate 9-month recovery period, we will commence a two-year plan during which we must work to restore Sierra Leone to the path to prosperity, as we envisaged under the Agenda for Prosperity. During this time, we will continue building the resilience of the health sector. We will work to reinvigorate the private sector as a source of growth, create jobs and livelihoods in our economy. We will continue to transform our road networks, improve access to markets and reduce operational costs for large-scale businesses. Access to energy and water will be high priorities for the next few years. Delivering on these infrastructure objectives can facilitate an economic transformation, by paving the way for large-scale agricultural processing, for economic diversification and job creation. Our battle plan is informed by the many lessons we have learned during the fight against Ebola. On a visit to the wholly Sierra Leonean run treatment centre at Hastings, I saw the great attention to the knots and bolts of infection control and recovery made at that centre; one that registered the highest survival rate of patients. The lessons learned are that Sierra Leoneans can ensure survival, we can ensure recovery; we can ensure hope. But as demonstrated by the dedicated men and women in that centre, it also shows that attention, collaboration and commitment to delivery of positive results will definitely lead to good outcomes.
That is why I have set up a delivery team at State House to ensure that our program is delivered. Support must get to those who need it; seeds must get to farmers; medicines to the sick, educational materials to the pupils. The program must ensure that frontlines of the battle get far more of the resources than the backlines. That must be the guiding principle, for that is what will get this country resilient and our people well-served.
Let me also use this opportunity to applaud the scale of commitments made in New York earlier this month at the UN Pledging Conference on Ebola. A total of $804.2 million was pledged directly to Sierra Leone. This is great confidence reposed in the Government of Sierra Leone, and the plans we have to defeat Ebola and ensure recovery. The further $1.7 billion in pledges for regional support, some of which will benefit our recovery directly is also reassuring. A total of $3.4 billion was pledged for the region. The generosity of the international community in supporting our recovery plans has been overwhelming. On behalf of the Government and the people of Sierra Leone, let me wholeheartedly thank our partners for their commitment to us and for restoring our country back to the path of prosperity. We also applaud the commitments made at the just concluded AU meeting in Malabo.
New York was a monumental international cooperation. But our mutual commitments and financial pledges are just the start of the journey. Another great step of the journey is for the pledges to be delivered, for them to become facts on the ground. We must all seize this unique opportunity for recovery in Sierra Leone and for a different kind of partnership between the Government of Sierra Leone and development partners - one that is aligned with the principles of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States.
This calls for a greater coordination of our efforts and ensuring investments that build skills, systems and structures within Sierra Leone to deliver services and infrastructure for itself into the future. Mutual Accountability should be a key watchword in this engagement. Being guided by this principle requires open communications about what everyone is doing here in Sierra Leone to support the recovery, and where and to whom resources are being allocated and how those efforts are aligned specially to our post Ebola recovery plan. Nothing must be hidden, and all must be accountable. Development actors should engage openly with the relevant MDAs on their activities in Sierra Leone and collaboration between these parties should lead to a better coordinated effort, and ultimately faster and better development outcomes. Donor partners have a responsibility in this regard to ensure the partners they are funding are collaborating in this way.
And for my part, I commit my Government to hold up our side of the mutual bargain – to be open with partners about our plans, progress, challenges and resource allocation, to deliver more detailed plans for our medium-term priorities in health, energy, water and private sector development and to guarantee effective delivery of those priorities through a strong delivery mechanism that will provide support and solve problems at all levels of government, right down to local service delivery.
And I say to the government representatives in this room, the Ministers, heads of agencies, MPs, Chairmen, Mayors, Local Councillors: I am entrusting to you a great responsibility here. You are to work with your colleagues in government, with development partners, with the business community, and with me personally, in an open and transparent manner, to restore our country on the path to prosperity which we embarked upon in 2007. It is our responsibility and I am staking the credibility of our government on fulfilling this responsibility, to fully deliver our recovery plans.
There must be no turning back, delivering on the plan is now a matter of life and death for our nation; we must choose life, growth and dignity and deliver the promises contained in our Post Ebola Recovery Plan. With strong commitment to delivering on the plans and with attention to accountability, transparency and changing the lives of our people, it is my honour to formally launch the Post Ebola Recovery Plan of Sierra Leone.
God Bless Sierra Leone and I thank you all for your attention.

PRESIDENT KOROMA DEPARTS FOR EQUITORIAL GUINEA

By State House Communications Unit
doing business

President Ernest Bai Koroma Monday July 20 left for Malabo, Equitorial Guinea during which he will address the International Conference on Africa's Fight Against Ebola under the theme "Africa helping Africans in the Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction".

The conference, which is being organised under the auspices of the Africa Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with the governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is expected to bring together relevant and various stakeholders to share experiences in the fight against Ebola and to discuss post Ebola recovery and reconstruction.

There will be a focus on investment in public health, strengthening health care delivery systems and response to disease outbreaks in order to achieve sustainable socio-economic recovery in particularly the three worst hit countries and the Mano River Union (MRU) sub-region as a whole. 

The conference is expected to address the specific objectives with the valuable contributions of the multi sectorial experts and to come up with a clear way forward for the establishment of a global policy and strategic framework for an effective response against Ebola and other major endemic diseases plaguing the continent.  It will also mobilise financial and material support for the recovery of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The specific objectives of the meeting are centered around mobilising African and International support for recovery and reconstruction of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia within the context of "Africa helping Africa" and identify the sectors where the consequences of the epidemic present urgent problems and require urgent solutions, among others.

Sierra Leone Ebola recovery conference United Nations, New York July 2015

Let me start by applauding the Secretary General for organizing this most important conference.

I also congratulate my colleague and sister, Her Excellency Helen Johnson-Sirleaf for the apt presentation of our Mano River Recovery Plan. My brother and Colleague, His Excellency Prof Alpha Conde and I fully endorse her presentation, and we seek the support of the world to move it forward. With your very laudable support, and the heroism of thousands of Ebola Response Workers, we have pinned down the virus to a few neighborhoods in our countries. But that Ebola is still in a few areas means we are not Ebola free, it means the Mano River Union is not Ebola free, it means the world is not Ebola free.

The battle now is to get the few cases down to zero, and getting our counties and the whole world to stay at zero. This is the most difficult battle of all. It involves building the resilience to stay at zero, it involves rebuilding our health sectors, caring for the survivors, and supporting the orphans and the widows brought unto that very vulnerable position by the virus. It involves getting kids back to schools that remain safe, and shoring up the private sector as a means of rebuilding livelihoods and putting the countries back on the trajectory of growth and promise that were very visible before the virus struck.

Ebola is the deadliest of the zoonotic transmissions that are increasingly threatening humanity all over the globe. Humanity has the knowledge to combat this virus; humanity has the resources to shore up the resilience of the countries that this virus is keen on using as staging point for its assault on all humanity. We are here because we believe the leaders of humanity gathered here today are very committed to making the world Ebola free; we were witnesses unto your mobilization of resources and skills at the heat of the battle in August, September and November 2014.

But we also know that humanity sometimes displays short attention spans and may want to move on to other issues because the threat from Ebola seems over. No, no and no. The threat is never over until we rebuild the health sectors Ebola demolished; until we rebuild livelihoods in agriculture that it compromised, until we shore up government revenues it dried up; and until we breathe life again unto the private sector it has suffocated. We are here because we believe that with your dedication to making the world Ebola free, the funding and other resources to do this are within reach; and you will support our region and countries secure and deploy those resources in optimal, transparent and accountable ways.

The experts tell us that Ebola is a stubborn enemy that usually stages comebacks. Support for our recovery programme will prevent this comeback, and give all of us the skills, expertise and experience to tackle deadly zoonotic transmissions wherever they threaten humanity.

We have learned many lessons from the outbreak. The lessons inform our national and regional recovery plans. These are plans put together with the support of many of the experts the world deployed to help us fight back Ebola and build resilient systems to combat future outbreaks. The plans in essence are global plans for combating the virus in the Mano River Union, and they require global support to make them work.

We are committed to making the plans work because making them work has the urgency of a life and death situation for over twenty million people in our countries; it is a matter of life and death for the billions more that our globalized world has put within arms reach of these twenty million people. This is a battle for all of us. We should not relent; securing final victory against this evil virus requires meeting the goals of this conference: mobilizing and deploying support for the regional and national recovery plans of the three most affected countries.

I thank you all for your attention

PRESS STATEMENT – EASE OF RESTRICTION ON SOME COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES 11/6/2015

Fellow Sierra Leoneans, since our country registered it first case of Ebola on the 25th of May 2014, my government has been working tirelessly with its international community to bring an end to this outbreak, which has infected over to 8,500 Sierra Leoneans, from which over 3,500 have died.

Through the resilience of us all, our country has continued to make steady progress in the fight against Ebola, since the country hit its worst figures in November, 2014. The numbers of confirmed cases have continued to decline for the past eight weeks and for the first time since the outbreak began in May 2014, our country went for eight consecutive days without recording a case.

Through your engagement, you members of the communities, through the engagement of local leaders, and our partners, through the hard work of our Ebola response workers, we have been able to narrow the geographic spread of the virus to now only a few districts.

These gains are encouraging, however, each and every one of us must be reminded that it is only once we record zero in every corner of our country for 42 days after our last Ebola patient at a treatment centeris discharged or safely laid to rest, that our beloved Salone will be declared Ebola-free in accordance with the International Standards. This is what happened in Liberia and what will also need to happen in Guinea for the region to be declared Ebola-free.

Let me therefore, remind all of us that to achieve this long awaited goal, complacency is our biggest challenge. You have done a great job to bring us to this stage, and with this destructive disease, the same safe practices each one of us is so familiar with are the ones that will bring us to a resilient zero.

Now more than ever is the time we must all remain vigilant in our households and communities. We must continue to call 117 to report the sick and the dead in our households and communities and provide the right information to Ebola response workers who visit our communities to investigate cases. We must continue to implement the safe and dignified burials policy. It is only by doing these right things that we can be sure of a resilient zero.

We have gone so far, let’s stay the course.

Daily updates and Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation show that we are facing challenges in Kambia and Port Loko districts, where cases are been recorded on a daily basis for the past 12 days.

I have therefore instructed the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) to carry out surge activities in Chiefdoms where cases are still been recorded in Kambia and Port Loko Districts with the sole goal of getting us to a resilient zero. The surge activities will include the follwoing:

  • Leadership from the community, including Paramount Chiefs, traditional healers, women, religious leaders and youth to take ownership, with support from the DERCs and NERC
  • Addressing Ebola in hot spots and enhancing community based surveillance across all chiefdoms in Kambia and Port Loko Districts
  • Adjusting Quarantine Homes to reflect the needs of families, including loved ones affected by the disease
  • Stronger surveillance and patrol by the RSLAF and SLP with communities to create a secure living environment
  • Strong adherence to the rule of law, again to protect you and your community.

With the above in mind, I have instructed the security to institute chiefdom level curfew and restriction on movement from 6 pm to 6 am in Kambia and Port Loko Districts with immediate effect.

The curfew, restrictions and the surge activities will last for a 21 day period. Offenders will be detained during this 21 day period and taken to the court of law thereafter.

As we make progress in the fight against Ebola and following representations made by our religious and business leaders, my government is working with its International Partners and the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to start our economic recovery and developmental programmes. In this context, we have revisited the restrictions currently in place, and decided to lift some of them in order to support economic recovery activities in the country and allow for more business activities.

Restrictions on the following businesses will be eased, provided they adhere to all Ebola Prevention Protocols, such as temperature screening of employees and customers, hand washing and prevention of overcrowding during business hours:

  • Supermarkets are now allowed to operate their businesses from 6 am to 9 pm Mondays to Saturdays.
  • Restaurants are allowed to operate from the hours of 6 am to 10 pm Mondays to Sundays.
  • Markets and General Trading are allowed to operate from 6 am to 9 pm Mondays to Saturdays
  • Okadas to operate from 6 am to 9 pm daily

 

Inspections and monitoring will be set in place, and failure by the above businesses to adhere to the Ebola protocols listed above will result in closure of such businesses.

The public is also hereby advised that all other restrictions remain in force until we get to zero plus 42, and must be adhered to as stipulated under the public State of Emergency Laws of our country.

Our goal is to get to a resilient zero 

AS EBOLA CLOCKS 1 YEAR…PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO SUPPORT SURVIVORS

By State House Communications Unit

president koroma takes photograhp with ebola survivorsMeeting with over 20 survivors at State House Monday 25 May, barely a year since the outbreak, President Ernest Bai Koroma assured survivors of the dreadful Ebola virus disease of government’s readiness to provide them with the necessary social services till their lives return to normal.

He said when the epidemic was reported this time last year, people received the news with mixed feelings and interpretations, saying that the issue of denial resulted to the death of considerable number of people – 3,000 have died so far.

The president disclosed that as at Sunday 24th May the country recorded 4,013 survivors. This, he said, happened because of government’s efforts in conjunction with international partners.

While expressing gratitude to Ebola survivors for their resilience, President Koroma also commended the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs for what he referred to as proactiveness in planning programmes for survivors.

Prior to the Ebola outbreak, President Koroma said his government had meant well for the country when it introduced the free health care initiative. He reminded that whosoever holds a certificate of Ebola survival will equally benefit from the free health care services and will be treated with whatever illness he or she may suffer from gratis. The head of state said a National Memorial Day for Ebola survivors will be set aside after the virus has been eradicated.  

Presenting a group of Ebola survivors to the president, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai disclosed that the survivors are planning a massive anti-stigma sensitization campaign. He therefore requested on their behalf to have a group photograph with President Koroma for display on billboards across the country.

Yusufu Kabba of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors described the meeting with President Koroma as a special moment. He said they are receiving support from government through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs.

He thanked government for providing free medical support to survivors, and expressed delight for livelihood support as they are always engaging their colleagues on abstinence as everybody wants to say goodbye to Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Amongst them was Sierra Leone's first Ebola survivor Victoria Yillia who was declared Ebola free in June last year.

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