Programme Manager, Public Health Division, in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Lansana Conteh, has admitted that the public was given wrong methods to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, during the early days of the outbreak. Conteh said that because the Ebola virus was new in the country they lacked ideas as to how to control its spread after it was first confirmed in Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone.
He said the ministry got it wrong in many respect, including the method of recruiting burial team members, how to bury the dead, training of staff, involvement of community leaders, and the media, adding that the ministry lacked experts who knew about the disease in the early days. He said the above reasons caused the virus to spread rapidly to every district in the country, killing more than 4,000, although thousands more survived.
Conteh said the ministry had learned from its mistakes and that mechanisms have now being put in place for any future outbreak. “It [Ebola outbreak] was highly challenging for us, but we have identified some of these problems and now putting system in place for any future epidemic,” said Conteh. Mr. Conteh, who was speaking to Concord Times yesterday in his office at Central Medical Stores, New England in Freetown, said: “This Ministry is still feeling the pain of the death of Dr. Sheik Umar Khan”, the first doctor and incidentally the sole virologist with a working knowledge of Ebola then, to be killed by the virus.