Chloe Kegg

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BBC Interview of SL Information Minister about 3-day lockdown

Sierra Leone’s Information Minster Alpha Kanu has been speaking to the BBC’s Newsday programme about the three-day Ebola lockdown. You can hear the interview on soundcloud.

A deserted street in Freetown on 28 March 2015


And schools in Sierra Leone are due to reopen in mid-April, not today as we had earlier reported.


3-Day Shutdown March 27th to 29th

In Sierra Leone the National Ebola Response Center (NERC) has told journalists that another three-days nation-wide shutdown will be conducted from March 27th to 29th. The exercise will be a repeat of the one that was done in September last year and according to the NERC CEO Major (rtd) Palo Conteh, the government and its partners are hopeful the shutdown will bring out latent cases that are not being reported or recorded.


Palo Conteh said the 3-days shut down will be both to re-sensitise on precautions as well as detect possible lines of transmission of the virus. Residents will be expected to stay at home throughout the three days exercise.


The last 3 days shutdown was proven to be very effective at highlighting the extent of the crisis. Sierra Leone has been recording haphazard number of cases. On some days, it will record single digits and then on other days, a sudden spike will be recorded in areas previously considered as virus-free. This is especially so for the North and West of the country.


Until the cases are down to zero for 21 continuous days, the country cannot be considered to be on any footing to start the journey towards being declared Ebola free. Liberia has now gone for ten continuous days without a single Ebola case. However, Guinea is also in the same straits as Sierra Leone with spikes and surges in numbers of cases.

Proposal to build Preschool/Day Care Centre

The consequences of the ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone are many and varied, one of them being the effect on children.  Many died during the outbreak and many lost one parent or both parents or the person who was looking after them at the time.

Although not quite so badly hit as in some areas of Sierra Leone the people in Newton are no exception so they have put forward a plan for a Preschool/Day Care Centre for vulnerable children.

The proposal is for a building to accommodate 105 children plus teachers and helpers.  Not only will it help the children but more women will be able to work in places such as the Pineapple Plantation and contribute to the family income.

preschool coloured sketch

The scheme appears to propose 3 rooms of 20ft x 30ft accessed off a covered veranda, with at one end a Staff Room / Office, with a store room leading off this.  Each room being 10ft x 15ft.  [The sketch above is based upon a sketch plan  received from Mabinty]

This seems to be compatible with the approach to the Skills Training Centre and the schools we visited.

We have received an estimate of the cost of building this facility which at the present rate of exchange is approx £9,000.  This facility is urgently needed.


  • Donations can be made through Virgin Money Giving, or to Tricia our treasurer (phone 712919).
  • Perhaps you would consider becoming one of our corporate sponsors, details from Anne (phone 711196).
  • Would you consider giving a small amount each month by Standing Order, Tricia has the details for this.

Many thanks indeed for all your support, past and present. I can assure you it is greatly appreciated by the people of Newton.

Rachel Lintern

Early treatment is key in managing Ebola

Early treatment is key in managing Ebola thumbnail

This is an interesting interview which answers some common questions!

As efforts to find a cure for the Ebola virus gather momentum, Yemisi Akinbola for Africa Renewal caught up with Dr Bernadette Murgue (in photo), the Deputy Director of the French Institut de Microbiologie et des Maladies Infectieuses IMMI (Institute of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases), to talk about issues surrounding Ebola treatment. The following are excerpts from the interview:

 Africa Renewal: Prior to the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak, what research had been done into finding a vaccine for the disease?

Dr Murgue: There is a vaccine by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is currently in phase one trials. It has been under evaluation in pre-clinical trials for safety and tolerability. It is being tried on a small number of healthy people.

Why the limited doses then?

There are two vaccines. The one by GSK and they have at least 10,000-20,000 doses. The other one is a collaboration between Canada and America. The most advanced is the GSK one and they have quite a lot of doses at the moment. The vaccine is to prevent, not to treat the disease and was to be given to the people that are the most exposed.

How about those that are infected?

Those infected need to be cared for. We require infrastructure, personnel and hospital equipment. If the infected can get care when they arrive at the Ebola centres as early as possible, the chances of survival increase.

Is ZMapp currently being used widely on the ground?

First of all, ZMapp is not a vaccine, it is a therapeutic. Many times it has been called a vaccine, but it’s not, it is a treatment. It has been given to patients, mostly patients from Northern countries and also to health care workers in Liberia.

Are there any organisations in Africa working on vaccines for Ebola?

It would be good if it were possible to do that. It’s very expensive to develop a vaccine. But in the future, once a candidate has been identified, then why not advocate for a company in Africa to produce a vaccine?

Is there anything else you would like to add?

There’s one main point here, treatment of Ebola at the onset and standard care is key for the patient. That is why we need infrastructure, logistics, human resources, health care workers and all of us to fight this disease.

Do you think the world in general and Africa in particular have responded appropriately and on time?

We know the countries that are affected by Ebola are already in a difficult situation, especially their healthcare systems. Nobody expected Ebola to be such a catastrophic epidemic. It started in a remote area which is not very densely populated and it took a bit of time for experts to realise that it was something different and very frightening.

By: Yemisi Akinbobola, Courtesy of Africa Renewal

– See more at:

Ebola Volunteers uncover 4 Ebola suspects in Grafton houses

bahOn a bright, hot day, hundreds of Ebola Response Volunteers walk through Freetown’s congested Grafton community, armed with a megaphone, posters and flyers and thermometers for temperature checks, they uncovered four Ebola suspects lying down in house.
The four people were visibly sick after a temperature check was done by the Ebola volunteers they were referred to the National Ebola Response Center at Grafton for further medical checks.
The Ebola hotspot busters are deploy rapidly to communities that are considered hotspots of the Ebola epidemic, as part of an immediate response to the Ebola outbreak.
Members of the community themselves, are trained to intensify social mobilization activities and increase engagement of communities to stop the spread of Ebola. They conduct one-on-one sensitization sessions, house-to-house visits and public awareness-raising.
To ensure that the hotspot is covered, the social mobilizers activate youth, women and volunteer networks in each community and reach approximately 9,000 households every week. The Ebola volunteers are involved in active community surveillance and are approached by community members to call, 117, Ebola hotline, so as to refer sick ones to the nearest hospital.
Since the initiative began, the Ebola Response Volunteers have carried out social mobilization in more than 30 hotspot communities with some 2,500; households been reached on their house-to-house visits.
In partnership with Rectour, Volunteers are supported by welthungerhilfe a German NGO is pioneering the project in the hope that greater social participation will lead to heightened awareness and accountability for one’s own community.
The efforts are bearing fruit, in Tombo, Devil Hole and Grafton within the Western Area, community spirit is paving the way for better coordination, reporting and trust of social mobilizers, contact tracers and other Ebola workers in the community.
Manfilla Kellie Marrah the Western Area Ebola Response Coordinator for Welthungerhilfe said over 200 volunteer’s help their neighbours understand why Ebola workers such as the Hotspot Busters are coming into their community.
“We try and make them understand the essence of driving Ebola out from their communities and also making people accept that Ebola is real,” Manfilla Marah stated.
Community leaders also consider the social mobilizers integral to their overall Ebola response. Councillor Ibrahim Conteh from the Grafton community said more than a hundred per cent the social mobilizers have been helpful to us,” he says.
They work around the clock as a member of the community, always with us and always involved. They investigate the issues, go to the homes to educate people and report if there are sick persons to make sure they are taken to the hospital, Councillor Conteh said.
The Sierra Leone Police and the military joined the Ebola Volunteers to carry out the house to house check for the sick at Grafton.
By Saidu Bah
Monday February 02, 2015

Toilet block at Newton Junction opened!

At last the toilet block near Newton Junction and Skills Centre is open. Formally opened by Mohamed Sesay who organised the project.
There are 4 cubicles and a hand-washing bay, all enclosed within this new building.

IMG-20150128-WA0004 IMG-20150128-WA0007 IMG-20150128-WA0006 IMG-20150128-WA0005
In April 2014 the block looked like this:
Entrance at this end!

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