West Africa is being seriously affected by the Ebola Virus, which has been spreading throughout the region. Recently a State of Emergency has been declared in Sierra Leone by the government as well as the WHO declaring an international State of emergency.
The virus is spread through ‘bodily fluids’ and is NOT spread through the air. We in the Olney-Newton Link are monitoring the situation closely and receive feedback direct from our contacts. Simple sanitation and hygiene are the main means of fighting this problem, in addition to education. We have recently released £500 to the Newton Committee for them to use to purchase essential items to control the spread of the virus in their community.
An Ebola checkpoint has been set up on the Main Motor Road through Newton, checking all traffic passing to and from Freetown and Bo.
Ebola virus disease (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is a severe, often fatal illness, with a case fatality rate of up to 90%. It is one of the world’s most virulent diseases.The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people. Severely ill patients require intensive supportive care. During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.
Ebola virus disease outbreaks can devastate families and communities, but the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, or at home.
A UN World Health Organisation report released on Tuesday 6th May 2014 stated that Sierra Leone is the worst country in the world for a woman to give birth, despite the country’s free health care for pregnant women introduced in 2011. The report ranked the country as having the highest maternal deaths in the world – at 1,100 out of every 100,000. This is far worse than neighbouring countries of Guinea where the figure is 650/100,000 and Liberia where it is 640/100,000.
During a visit to Sierra Leone for the wedding of one of our trustees, Claire Lintern, 4 of us ie Brian and Rachel Lintern and Anne and Rob McCallum visited Newton on April 13th and14th. We were greeted by the ONL Secretary, Abu Bakarr Fofanah and the Treasurer Mabinty Sesay and the Newton Scouts who gave us a splendid marching display.
We were taken to see our various projects:
The Skills Training Centre: this is now in full use by students studying various subjects. The tutors are provided by the University of Sierra Leone. ONL being responsible for the development of the building. The urgent need is for a photocopier and toilet facilities. Further development is envisaged on land adjoining the present building.
The Community Toilets: the cesspit is virtually completed and the walls for the cubicles stand about 3ft high.
The Water Well: this is complete and has been in use but during the dry season the water table has fallen so it needs to be extended downwards for a further few feet.
The Newton Health Centre: we saw the solar panels, now working well, and the solar suitcase. There is provision for water from a well feeding a storage tank. We were taken to the maternity ward which is in need of new beds, a proper delivery bed and more health information.
Ahmadiyya Agricultural Secondary School: we were able to meet the head teachers of both the junior and senior sections and were shown 2 new classrooms which had no furniture.
Since our return to the UK we have been able to send money for the extension of the Water Well in time for the rains. Ousedale School(Olney) have sent money for the provision of some tables and chairs for AASS.