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  • Writer's pictureDr. Yakama Manty Jones

COVID-19…This too shall pass! Looking Back to Fuel Grit!

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

When I have conversations with many that wonder why I do what I do, I always say it’s because I am convinced, I was created to not do just the bare minimum. I alone cannot change the World, but I am forever committed to doing my part in making it a better place. I do this through my portfolio career.

I wasn’t in Sierra Leone during the #Ebola outbreak in 2014, but my family and friends were. I know what my #Sierra Leone went through and we are still feeling the impact. When China started reporting cases of #COVID-19, I started having flashbacks. But then, when#WHOon March 11th 2020 declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, the worry began setting in.  

In 2019, I collaborated with amazing humans to write ‘Presidential responses to Ebola in Sierra Leone’ in The Lancet Global Health. This was after serving as Data Management Specialist, Information Management and Quality Assurance Specialist and eventually Delivery Team Lead (after Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr) of the President’s Recovery Priorities. Having worked with inspirational women leaders, a fantastic team of young Sierra Leoneans and world-class consultants on Sierra Leone’s Post-Ebola Recovery Programme, I had hoped that Ebola would be the last sad chapter in my country's history that I would experience in my lifetime.

Well, that feeling of apprehension during the Ebola outbreak has returned. This time it is accompanied by gut-twisting fear and lack of adequate sleep due to my brain turning philosophical around 'madrugada'daily. Probably it’s the scale of the outbreak which I monitor closely. Maybe it's in being older, having a greater sense of responsibility, being a mother, running a business, lecturing and working full time. Possibly it’s because of more responsibility and needing to think about the health, economic, social, gender and security impact of this outbreak not only in Sierra Leone but around the World. Perhaps it’s more………..uncertainty..................

What gives me hope is how we have come together to support each other in this fight. I am hopeful, especially of the efforts being made in Sierra Leone, to not only #StayatZero but also in preparing to respond in the event we start reporting positive cases.  

We have a developed a Health Preparedness and Response Plan. The Emergency Operation Centre has been activated. In-country diagnostic capacity, at three public health laboratory facilities, has been established. Screening and security protocols have been enhanced at major points of entry, notably the Freetown International Airport, and the major border crossing points with Guinea and Liberia. We are temporarily closing our land borders with Guinea and Liberia.

A Quick Action Economic Response Programme has been developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance to foster economic and financial stability during this challenging period and also to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on households and businesses. Risk Communications, training and prepositioning of supplies at strategic locations have also been heightened. The use of data and opportunities for using science, technology and innovation in this response is being explored by key institutions such as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation, in collaboration with local and international partners including Universities.

I am elated by the efforts of individuals, especially young Sierra Leoneans, in-country and around the World, raising awareness and sharing messages on prevention and the potential impact of COVID-19 on our socio-economic fabric; inspiring behavioural change; supporting government's and partners' efforts; being innovative, and forging partnerships amongst many other interventions.

We have experienced pain, hurt and loss. We survived and are still here. Different lessons learnt...... Different battles fought...... This too, shall pass. Till then, be prepared, keep up to date with verified information, help in your own way, innovate and think ahead…………. It is our #collectiveresponsibility . Everyone has something to offer.  Look back at how far you have come and re-fuel that Grit!!!

Photo Credit: Women Mean Business and Ariana Diaries



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