The Ministry of Health and Sanitation through the Health Education/Social Mobilization Unit of the Tonkolili District Health Management Team (DHMT) has concluded a three-day district stakeholders orientation meeting on Friday 6th December, 2019 at the Tonkolili District Council Hall in Magburaka town.
The purpose of the engagement was to not only orientate district stakeholders on the Health Ministry’s response to the prevalence of Lassa Fever in the district, but to also capacitate them with the required knowledge to take the necessary actions to prevent incidences of Lassa Fever in the district, as it is now endemic.
District Medical Officer, Dr. Abdul Mac Falama, who doubles as the Incident Manager of the reactivated Tonkolili District Emergency Operation Centre said that Lassa Fever is not new to Tonkolili District as the district had previously recorded cases in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. He however stated that the disease has been contained as they have not recorded any confirmed or suspected case of Lassa Fever for the past days.
Dr. Falama added that over 30 contacts have so far completed the 21 days observation period, which means they are now medically free to interact with family members, friends and community members with no risk of carrying the virus, as they did not show any signs and symptoms of the Lassa Fever Virus Disease, which he described as a sigh of relief. He however cautioned that they now have 41 contacts that are currently being followed-up and hoped they will clock the 21 days observation period this week without showing any signs & symptoms.
Dr. Falama heaped praises on the Health Education/Social Mobilization Pillar for a fantastic work done as series of preventive and awareness raising approaches have been utilized to prevent the spread of the disease, which they have achieved.
He thanked the DHMT staff and partners like UNICEF, Concern, WHO, MSF, Breakthrough ACTION, Sierra Leone Field Epidemiology Training Programme for their timely and unflinching support to the Emergency Lassa Fever Response as they would not have been able to contain the disease without their support.
“Since the disease is currently being contained, we now concentrate on strengthening structures and the different pillars as a way of preparedness and for sustainability”, He added.
Senior Health Education Officer, Kottor Kay Kamara, who presented the Roles and Responsibilities of key stakeholders in Health Care Delivery stated that stakeholders are expected to take positive actions in their communities to prevent disease outbreaks and other emergencies of Public Health Concerns, adding that they should be seen taking active role in the promotion and protection of health services/commodities and prevention of disease outbreaks to ensure ownership, participation and sustainability.
Pa OusmanManneh, Development Communication Specialist at UNICEF applauded the early response of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to the Lassa Fever Response which he said has paid dividend as it is evident in the zero Lass fever cases recorded the past weeks. He added that they are committed to support the government and people of Sierra Leone, especially when it comes to the health and welfare of children and women.
At the end of the three-day meeting, stakeholders committed to take action to prevent diseases in their chiefdoms, wards, constituencies, sections, villages and communities, especially in the Lassa Fever affected Chiefdoms and Communities.
The meeting was attended by Paramount Chiefs, Councilors, Community Health Workers, Town Criers, Traditional Healers, Religious Leaders, Cookery Sellers, Teachers, Farmers, and representatives from Office of National Security, Sierra Leon Police, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education, Ministry of Social Welfare, Kombra Network, Community Based Organizations, Focus 1000, Village Development Committees, among others.