An article in the internationally acclaimed NEW YORK TIMES newspaper has openly mocked the Government of Sierra Leone’s announced numbers concerning Ebola patients by quoting a Western diplomat who said of the numbers:-
“Even a 2-year-old child can look at them and see they don’t add up!”
The NYTIMES article which was published on September 25th 2014 reported thus:
The numbers for Sierra Leone come from the Ministry of Health, and diplomats and international health officials say they are largely inaccurate, substantially underplaying the gravity of the situation on the ground. “Even a 2-year-old child can look at them and see they don’t add up,” the Western diplomat here said.
Many other internationally credible articles had revealed of greater number of burials of Ebola patients than was announced. These articles sparked widespread debates on social media with strong accusations amongst citizens that the Government was being deliberately dishonest.
However, it is a fact that the Government had very honestly informed in a Published Statement as far back as 24th September 2014 that the STAY AT HOME campaign which took place from 19th to 21st September, had revealed, "The true picture portrays a situation that is worse than what was being reflected in reports".
Despite this, many questions continued to be posed around especially at Dr. Sylvia Blyden, the Special Executive Assistant to the President who regularly engages citizens on social media. In response to the numerous queries, Dr. Blyden past Saturday September 27th took time to write the following which instantly went viral as it, for the first time, comprehensively showed cause of under-estimates.
UPDATE BY DR. SYLVIA BLYDEN
Let me thank all who have posed observations and questions to me about the incomprehensible difference in totals of announced lab-confirmed cases versus number of survivors & number of deaths. You are all quite right that the difference is currently like one thousand and clearly, such a large number of over 1,000 Ebola patients, are not to be found in health centers around the country. You are quite correct! So, where are these compatriots?
The fact is that a few of these unaccounted-for numbers are currently admitted in Ebola centers but I can categorically state today that the vast majority of the [over] 1,000 patients are already DEAD and lying in their graves. Yes, they are dead and buried! Hundreds of them! :-( May their souls rest in peace.
As some have repeatedly stated for months now, the numbers we are being given from Health Ministry as official Ebola death figures are absolutely incorrect. Before going further, let me state that the initial appearance of the hitherto unknown Ebola disease was a strange situation for us to handle and as can be perfectly understood, we had a tough learning curve during which we, as a country, made a series of blunders. One such blunder is the reason behind the erroneous death figures.
Let me explain.
The erroneous death figures within the laboratory-confirmed category, are NOT caused by deliberate massaging but a flight of common sense; probably caused by the stress of what was unfolding on us. What am I saying here? Please read the following explanation carefully...
Now, most of the missing patients not currently accounted for, have resulted from a policy where sick patients blood samples are collected from them in their villages and towns and these samples taken to the lab in Kenema, Kailahun or Freetown for testing whilst the patients were left behind in their communities, waiting for their results. By the time, the results were available as confirmed positive and health officials prepared and went back to the villages/towns with ambulances to collect the patients, only a few were met still alive. Many of these patients (most of whom had been seriously ill), had already died in their communities and been buried. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
Now here comes the 'interesting' part.
Former Health Minister Miatta Kargbo and former World Health Organisation Representative Dr. Jacob Mufunda, had ordered that ONLY DEATHS INSIDE CLINICAL FACILITIES were to be recognised as "confirmed deaths" to be announced. So, all those laboratory positive patients who died in their towns and villages before they could be collected in ambulances for treatment at Ebola Centers, were never announced as deaths though already announced amongst number of laboratory positive cases. These unannounced deaths of our compatriots, ran up to HUNDREDS of deaths of laboratory confirmed cases! May their souls rest in perfect peace.
This, is the simple reason behind the incorrect (fake) death figures in the laboratory confirmed categories. Sierra Leone was not counting our compatriots who died outside of health facilities. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
This grave error that resulted in skewed death figures, was immediately picked up by the new Health Minister, Dr. Abubakarr Fofanah, on assuming office and, in a poignant presentation to the Presidential Task Force on Ebola which included all top international diplomats, opposition party leaders, SLMDA doctors and key civil society members, the Health Minister Dr. Abubakar Fofanah carefully explained what had been happening under the watch of his predecessor. You just need to read the U.S. Embassy's Facebook updates posted after that Presidential Task Force meeting. (Check Sept 8th and Sept 10th U.S. Embassy updates. They speak volumes).
So, based on analytic presentation of the new Health Minister, it is now a Government policy that the death figures being announced for laboratory confirmed cases, should be reviewed - eventually. The Health Minister has already informed the CDC and the WHO on this.
As you can well imagine, after impending review, the death rates, Case Fatality Rate (CFR) and other attendant aspects will be significantly changed and a better understanding of the serious gravity of what is unfolding in Sierra Leone, will be known by the whole world. Please brace yourselves. The news is not good. However, rest assured that working together, we can overcome Ebola.
In addition, the review will also ensure proper inclusion of all SUSPECTED and PROBABLE deaths as per World Health Organisation definitions. Keen observers might have noticed that it is only recently, in last one month, that an attempt has been made to include suspected and probable deaths in the death numbers being announced.
Fellow Citizens and Friends of Sierra Leone, let us continue to keep our beautiful country's Ebola crisis in the mainstream of the world's attention. We have a very, very serious situation on our hands.
We made a lot of mistakes in the early stages because we had a steep learning curve. However, we can no longer blame a steep learning curve for any more mistakes. Let us gear up against Ebola!
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
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