From the muted media response one could be forgiven for thinking operations in Sierra Leone had ceased, Ebola was conquered and everyone was back home with tea and medals.
The general direction of Ebola control is good; new cases are declining, free movement restored over a month ago and plans firmly in place for getting back to normal for schools and other public services.
A non scientific survey of the local media shows Ebola is just one story amongst many, the usual diet of corruption, female genital mutilation and arms trafficking now back in their usual place. There has been a short term spike in infections and subsequent quarantine in Freetown near the neighborhood of Aberdeen which has hit the headlines because that is near a relatively wealthy part of town where high end and oft frequented by foreigners hotels and restaurants are located.
The recently released Report on the Audit of the Management of the Ebola Funds from the Sierra Leone Audit Service states that 30% of Ebola funds, not including those provided by external governments and agencies, cannot be accounted for. Reuters reports that some payments to workers on the Ebola response effort have been ceased to allow thousands of ‘ghost workers’ to be removed. IRIN reports that in the midst the Ebola outbreak a significant increase in teenage pregnancy and sexual assaults has occurred. Finally, Salone Post reports that some Ebola survivors are suffering from erectile dysfunction.
And this is the problem with reporting the good news of the three services involved with the relief effort, for every story about Reservists sending toys for children there is a negative or sensationalist story from in Sierra Leone to knock it off the agenda.
Whatever the local news, service personnel and civilians in Sierra Leone, and those providing support from the UK have done a bloody sterling job, much deserved of praise and plaudits for bravery. Reading the numerous local media, one gets the impression of the response being both an international effort and one that Sierra Leone nationals have participated in fully, helpless they are not.
The task continues…