Showing posts from 2014

Will the goal of an Ebola vaccine be realized in 2015?

It's exactly a month today since Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) put out a statement on the first phase 1 trial results of a candidate Ebola vaccine.

Commenting on the results, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chairman of Global Vaccines at GSK said: “We are very encouraged by these positive first trial results showing this type of vaccine has an acceptable safety profile and can produce an immune response against Ebola in humans."

The release also said further data from ongoing phase 1 trials in the United States of America, United Kingdom, Mali and Switzerland were expected by the end of 2014.

“If the combined data from these trials are positive, the next phases of the clinical trial programme will begin in early 2015 to see whether the immune response we are seeing in phase 1 actually translates into providing people in affected countries with meaningful protection against Ebola," the statement said.

Phase 3 trials will involve the vaccination of thousands of volunteers, including frontline …

Thoughts on "The Path to Zero Ebola Cases"

If you read anything in the Sunday papers or on social media today, make Sylvia Olayinka's Blyden's commentary a must. On her Facebook wall, Blyden responds to Jim Yong Kim's recent Op-Ed in the New York Times. Read on.

These two photos are scenes of a now-typical day at the Kingtom Ebola Burial grounds in Western Sierra Leone. Scores of corpses are thrown into graves hastily dug by overworked grave diggers. Freetown has never seen a thing like this in contemporary times. We are being psychologically scarred; the World needs to end this scourge - fast. However, we all have roles to play especially those of us who can engage in critical thinking.

In today's update therefore, I am drawing attention to what, in my view, is one of the BEST articles ever written on our Ebola crisis. It is authored by the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim and was published this month in New York Times newspaper. Read it carefully. His listed steps, especially as to what locals and …

Africa on the "Best Countries for Business" Map

African nations make up 60 percent of the bottom 10 in the 2014 Forbes’ annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business, but it's not all bad news for Sierra Leone. In this week's publication, Kurt Badenhausen reports that high levels of corruption, red tape and taxes registering are major issues in Africa. Guinea brought up the rear at 146 and Sierra Leone stands at 114.

In his first state of the nation address since the Ebola outbreak this May, President Koroma remarked on the nation's change in fortune at the State Opening of Parliament in Freetown on December 5.

"This time last year, Sierra Leone won high praise and acclamation around the world as a country transforming itself into a model of post war recovery, a country registering sterling economic growth, a country improving its scores on most indices of governance, peace, investor confidence and democracy," said President Koroma in his state of the nation address. "This time last year, thousands of…

President Ernest Bai Koroma's State of the Nation Address

"Our country is a nation of young people. Youths, defined as those between 15 and 35, comprise about a third of the country’s population. The overwhelming majority of health workers, from nurses to contact tracers, burial teams, communication teams and volunteers are youths. This nation owes its very survival to youths. Youths are more resilient than any other group; the majority of those who survive Ebola are youths; we must build on this resilience of our youths to overcome the challenges we now face as a nation." - President Ernest Bai Koroma's State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Friday, December 5, 2014

Full text of President Ernest Bai Koroma's State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Friday, December 5, 2014


What's Next for Sulaiman?

In a WhatsApp group Sunday, Sulaiman “Justice” Musa of Bo, Sierra Leone's second city, marked a career milestone with a look at some of his achievements, folk who helped him along the way, and people he has worked with. 

"It's 5 years since I stepped down as leader of the Children's Forum Network/Children's Parliament here in Sierra Leone. During my time in the Children's Forum Network (CFN), I had the opportunity to interact with Leonard Francis Vibbi, now studying in the United States, Alex Samuel Nallo Jr., a consultant here in Sierra Leone, Chernor Bah, who now works at the United Nations in New York, Messeh Leone, an international critic based in the United Kingdom, Sillah Sillah, now a consultant in the Netherlands, Bamine Charlie Boye, a global youth ambassador based in the United States, and Musa Ansumana Soko, now head of the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Network (WASH-Net) Sierra Leone.

"I was mentored by Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (she needs no in…

My dress, My Choice sparks a lot of questions

It's time. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign starts on November 25, and goes until December 10, Human Rights Day. It's time to take action, loudly and visibly, in our homes, schools, work places, parliaments, and in our neighborhoods.

Below is Kandeh Mariama Seray's activism:

Last week, hundreds of women marched through the streets of Nairobi, Kenya. According to reports, protesters, most of whom wore miniskirts, called for the men who had physically assaulted a woman dressed in a mini-skirt at a bus station to strip them too.
Kenyans also launched an online protest:  #MydressMychoice

In turn, the protest galvanized a male group calling on women to dress appropriately.

But what constitutes “appropriate dress” for women? And just why is it “acceptable” to dress in a particular way at a particular place but unacceptable in another?

Nairobi street and online protest further sparked debate on gender-related dress across Africa. How is the African w…

Ebola in West Africa | Ten Weeks after September 16

"Fund the emergency response for Ebola," urges one headline last week. In the op-ed, Koma Gandy Fischbein, a former U.S. Navy officer now a fellow with the Truman National Security Project, made the case why Congress should provide an "additional $6.18 billion in emergency funding to support domestic preparedness and international efforts to combat Ebola.

Writing for The Hill newspaper’s Congress Blog, a forum for American lawmakers and policy professionals, Fischbein argued that the United States has the opportunity to lead the way, and support the effort to contain and stop the ugly march of Ebola at its source.

“Though there are signs of progress in the most affected countries, continued coordination and support from the international community is required to sustain this progress, transfer knowledge, and support health care infrastructure put in place to reverse the progress of this disease," Fischbein wrote, adding, “Congress must set aside partisan politics…

New Health Task Force Issues Call to Action

Since the Ebola epidemic exploded into Sierra Leone in May 2014, the disease has claimed more than 1,250 lives and the virus continues to outpace efforts to contain it.

In October, Save the Children warned that a rate of five new Ebola cases an hour in Sierra Leone means healthcare demands are far outstripping supply.

According to the World Health Organization, 24 percent of the total number of 6,000 Ebola cases in Sierra Leone have been reported in the past three weeks.

Although doctors and nurses in Sierra Leone are laboring to combat the Ebola outbreak, which is putting enormous strain on the limited healthcare facilities, and emergency medicine volunteers have flown in from various countries to help in the fight, Sierra Leone remains a country with widespread transmission.
In response, a new medical organization plans to tap Sierra Leonean born doctors, nurses, and public health professionals around the world to fill the gap. For more information on the US-Sierra Leone Healthcare Coa…

In Remembrance of Dr. Salia

Marion Koso-Thomas, M.D., MPH remembers Martin Salia, the lauded Sierra Leonean doctor who split his time between his family home in New Carrollton, Maryland and treating patients in his native Sierra Leone. Salia died from the Ebola virus on Monday.

Marion and Salia graduated from the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Sierra Leone in 1994. Then their roads diverged until they met years later at a children's hospital.

Dr. Koso-Thomas's remembrance is below.

The anticipation in the critical unit ward at the Ola During Children’s Hospital was palpable. Somehow or other, I had gotten the famous Dr. Martin Salia to come to the hospital to evaluate one of our cases. His presence on the ward was a rare event. The only (thing I knew) about him was that he was a ‘really good surgeon who could fix anything.’

As I rounded with other medical officers and tried to make sense of the complex cases of malaria and pneumonia we were encountering, I was intrigued by th…

Ebola Response Appeal from the National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America

The National Organization of Sierra Leoneans in North America (NOSLINA) is planning a third airlift of equipment in response to Sierra Leone’s plea for help with battling widespread and intense transmission of Ebola.

Currently, Sierra Leone's Ministry of Health and Sanitation urgently requires medication, rubber gloves, aprons, goggles or face shields, surgical or high filtration masks, leg covers, and shoe covers, amongst other items.

Three months ago, NOSLINA airlifted materials to combat the Ebola virus. The initiative — which involved delivery of more than 4,750 pounds of cargo, followed calls from diplomatic representation led by Ambassador Bockari Kortu Stevens in Washington D.C.

The items were transported to Sierra Leone from the United States through coordination of Airlink, a 24/7 disaster response organization that links vetted charities such as NOSLINA with airlines for air and cargo transportation, and with global logistics companies. The aircraft arrived at Freetown-…

Give a hand...The US-Sierra Leone Healthcare Coalition needs You

There has been a lot of news coverage lately about Ebola in Sierra Leone. By all accounts, it’s an ugly situation—transmission rates rising, aid appearing too little, too late, airlines canceling flights, countries suspending visa applications, Sierra Leoneans facing stigma, and overall economic loss for the country. And that’s not even taking into account the after-effects on thousands of children who are now orphans.

  "While we have been away from home, our hearts are with our families, friends and neighbors we would like to help during this difficult moment," says Dr. Ibrahim Diallo, chairman of the US-Sierra Leone Healthcare Coalition. "They expect us, their diaspora, to stand up and tell their stories."

          The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has dramatically raised awareness of the global burden of infectious disease and raised questions about the preparedness of public health systems.

 The Ebola epidemic has shed light on well-known deficiencies i…

The Freetown return: A year on

After 22 years in America, Miriam Conteh-Morgan returned to Sierra Leone in November 2013. A lot has changed, for sure, and some things are not quite how she remembered it.

"I returned to Sierra Leone after 22 years in the United States. Lived in Ohio and was associate professor and library subject specialist at The Ohio State University.  Decision to return home based purely on my personal situation. Played with the idea for about 5 years, during which I visited every year, testing the waters for periods ranging between 3 weeks and 5 months."
Last November, Miriam finally felt it was the right time.

"So leaving my adult son and daughter, a brand new (8 week) grandson, I took the plunge. Wasn't easy leaving them, my very satisfying job, and a way of life, but the pull of home was stronger."
Miriam came back to the University of Sierra Leone, where she taught in the Linguistics department before leaving in 1991-1992. Currently, she's heading the library at…

Delivering Britain’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone

In support of the government of Sierra Leone and the U. K. international development department, British Army medical teams, stores and aid experts arrived at Freetown's deep water quay Thursday on Royal Fleet Auxiliary aviation support ship Argus.

The arrival of Argus is the latest deployment in a joint operation to assist the UK aid mission, with 800 deployed personnel. The Argus’ helicopters and  fleet of vehicles will speed up the delivery of emergency supplies and personnel across the country, a Dfid official said.

Three Merlin Mk2 helicopters, from 820 Naval Air Squadron, will be used to help teams move quickly around the country. Two landing craft vehicles and 3 rigid hull inflatable boats, from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, will be used for moving equipment and personnel inland along Sierra Leone’s river network.

Personnel from 5 British medical regiments are helping to train more than 800 Sierra Leoneans at the Ebola Training Academy in the nation's capital. Th…