On the 4th of May 2015, I represented SLOF ry in a seminar organized by Kirkon ulkomaanapu.
The seminar comprised of various individuals from NGOs operating in third world countries. Also delegates from the Finnish Foreign Ministry were present, notably Mrs. Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen (Special Ebola Envoy).
The West African Ebola outbreak was first reported in March 2014 and has been the largest in history hitting especially fatal in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Official data up to 8th February 2015 showed that the current epidemic has claimed altogether 9,177 lives, of which 3,826 in Liberia. It has been claimed that the majority of victims have been women, with no reliable data to support this argument. According to WHO’s recent data, 49,5 % were women and 50,5 % were men.
According to the Ebola researcher from Turku University, Leena Kotilainen, these three countries worst hit have been in armed conflicts over the past decade and half. Due to these conflicts the health sector has been neglected and facilities left to decay. The lack of proper healthcare workers, caretakers of infected individuals and lack of knowhow created a problem to properly manage the EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) epidemic.
Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen from the Finnish Foreign Ministry mentioned the work so far undertaken by the Ministry to help these worst affected countries, especially Sierra Leone. She talked about the international commitment to eradicate this epidemic with support from the World Bank and other donor countries to do more. The question of trust and transparency of how World Bank money should be spent and accounted for properly was put across by the president of Kirkon ulkomaanapu Jouni Hemberg.
The seminar organizer Mr. Jussi Ojala lauded the great work SLOF ry has done in Finland for Sierra Leone to combat the Ebola epidemic. “SLOF ry has been a major force in partnering with major players in the fight against the Ebola pandemic”, Mr. Ojala said.
All and all the seminar was fruitful as participants were very eager to learn more, since Ebola is not only about the worst hit countries, but it concerns the world at large.
SLOF appreciates the efforts by Finnish NGOs and Foreign Ministry in assisting in eradicating Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone. We are looking forward to continuing co-operation with all NGOs who have been participating in helping Sierra Leone as well as those intending to do so. We also give a special thanks to the Finnish Foreign Ministry for assisting Finnish Red Cross and other Finnish NGOs who have been active in the country. Moreover, we want to thank Kirkon ulkomaanapu and especially Mr. Jussi Ojala for organizing this seminar.
The Ebola outbreak which has claimed over 11,000 lives so far now seems to be at an end in Liberia and we are hoping the same will happen soon in Guinea and Sierra Leone. However, these countries will continue to need the support of donors and NGOs in building their healthcare infrastructure as was also discussed in the seminar organized by SLOF on April 27th.
Written by Franklyn Kamara
SLOF ry, Secretary General
Mrs. Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen (left) in Sierra Leone in April. Source: CCYA / Taksvärkki.