Lady Diana Warns Pujehun Against Complacency

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)
Reporting from Pujehun

The Southern District of Pujehun may have proudly claimed the accolade of becoming the first out of 14 districts in Sierra Leone to go beyond 42 days consecutively without recording any Ebola case, but the country’s Minister of Local Government has warned officials against complacency.

“Until Ebola is out of the sub-region you’re not free,” said Diana Konomanyi on Friday, speaking as guest of honour at a modest thanksgiving ceremony organized by the Pujehun District Council to mark their achievement.

“Of course I am proud of you and I am happy to be part of all this. But as I am here to celebrate with you, let me also advise you not to be complacent. You’re still surrounded by Ebola,” said Konomanyi.

Pujehun district shares border not only with Bo, Kenema and Bonthe but also a very porous boundary with neighboring Liberia especially in the dry season. According to local security officials, in the dry season there are more than 50 illegal crossing points and citizens from both end can easily walk across the Mano River.

“You must now fortify your borders more than ever before,” said Konomanyi, adding that apart from increasing security, there is need to deploy medical teams within the chiefdoms along the border region.

The ‘Iron Lady’ said she’s not surprised at the achievement of the people of Pujehun District in the fight against Ebola. She recalled that as Minister of Local Government, after prevailing on the EOC about four months ago, she toured the 14 districts in the country and insisted that they utilize the existing local governance structure in the fight against Ebola.

“In this structure you have 149 Chiefdoms and 149 Paramount Chiefs and their Town and Section chiefs, 19 Local Councils and their chairmen, councilors and ward committees…They all reside in the chiefdoms and they understand the local context and psychology of their people, and they speak to them in the language that they easily understand. When you utilize this structure the people automatically take ownership of the fight,” said Konomanyi.

She reminded the people that the Public Health Emergency and bye laws are still in effect; she urged for house to house surveillance for strangers and sick people, and to continue to be united and steadfast in the fight to ensure Pujehun District stay free of Ebola.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Minister donated 50 bags of rice to the district as incentive, 10 bags of which she said should be given to the women and 10 to the youth and another 10 to the health workers.

Note: This is a Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) sponsored reporting.

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