Representatives of certain International Organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) met with the Field Mission and described the national health sector’s preparedness when COVID-19 struck, the progress Sierra Leone has made since the Ebola Virus outbreak which decimated close to 15,000 lives and the efforts that they themselves, in their capacity as development partners, are making to ensure food security and protect lives.
Speaking from a health perspective, medical experts from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation indicated the remarkable strides made by Sierra Leone in training health workers and producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as sanitizers. In addition, the experts from the Ministry of Health pointed the Ebola outbreak between 2014-2015 as an important learning which contributed in curbing the progression of Covid-19 in the country. They also outlined the fact that, Sierra Leone used the Covid-19 outbreak as an opportunity to develop certain entrepreneurial, industrial, and technical capacities to efficiently deal with Covid-19. This means that, the closure of international borders and state of emergency measures that were introduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak, enabled the country to fully own the response to the pandemic, a milestone on the path to expanding health care delivery in the country.
The last interaction the Targeted Review Field Mission had in Freetown prior to travelling to the regions, was with members of the media and civil society. The latter supported government’s initiatives by disseminating health advice on mainstream and social media to sensitize the public and by countering fake news on COVID-19 which circulated widely.
Moreover, in the course of the meeting, they expressed their admiration for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation which was very proactive in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and was responsible for setting up the National Coronavirus Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC) which coordinates the official response to COVID-19. The youth were also praised by stakeholders in the media and civil society for their compliance with regulations issued by government.
On November 22nd 2020, the Targeted Review Team left Freetown to engage in additional Focus Group discussions in four other cities, namely Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Port Loko, and gather views that will enrich the Targeted Review Report which is due to be presented at the APR Forum of Heads of State and Government in February 2021. The Review Team is expected to return to Freetown in November 26th, 2020.