Sierra Leone’s three-day Ebola disease containment measure scheduled to end on Monday has been a success, according to Stephen Ngaojia, the coordinator for the country’s Operations Emergency Center.
As part of the education and sensitization measure, a police training school, Ngaojia says, has been turned into an isolation unit to serve as both a “holding and treatment center” with about 120 beds to help combat the dreaded disease.
The goal of the Ebola containment measure was to reach an estimated 1.5 million households across the country, according to Ngaojia.
“The three-day house to house Ebola talk has overall been successful, despite the initial hiccup that we had at the beginning of the exercise on Friday,” said Ngaojia. “The exercise has been able to fast track the response effort … We have been able to get a lot of people coming forward to actually get their people in different isolation centers and treatment centers.”
Ngaojia hailed the cooperation of citizens in the government’s move to reduce the infection rate, after rejecting media reports that some of the emergency workers were attacked.
“This exercise has actually created an outreach wherein there has been massive awareness in the minds of the majority of Sierra Leoneans,” said Ngaojia. “[They] were very respectful to the teams that went to their homes … Now, at the family level some discussions have been generated, and at the community level that Ebola is real and is in our communities.”
Ngaojia says members of his team are still gathering information about the performance of the volunteers who went house to house to educate and administer test to people for the disease.
“The reports are still coming in from the different areas, but I can assure you that just taking into consideration the number of bars of soap that were dropped in the different areas that the effort was very successful in reaching quite a number of good people,” said Ngaojia.
“It is possible that one or two areas may not have been visited in a way, but we feel very comfortable that anywhere between 90 to 100 percent of some of the targeted households were actually reached,” said Ngaojia. “We are even thinking that [on] Monday some of the areas that they were not able to cover they can reach them … to make sure that the exercise is consolidated and capture an accurate picture of the entire effort we just put in place.”
Sierra Leone’s information minister told VOA that current figures show there are 1,400 cases of Ebola in the country. He said the government in Freetown aims to reduce the infection rate.
Ngaojia said the three-day containment measure aims to help efforts to combat the disease.
“This exercise was not to say that it will completely break the chain of transmission in any way by any means. What we have done is to think outside the box,” he said
“If we have been able to get very close to 200 people in different areas who came forward to be tested and maybe 50 percent tested positive in a way that is a huge success story. It is another effort in being actually able to identify some of the people who have been infected … bring them to holding centers, get them tested and take them to treatment centers within the shortest possible time,” Ngaojia said.