The story of the mother of twins who survived Ebola

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)
Reporting from Kailahun

Taiwa Sahr is a 19 year-old mysterious survivor of the Ebola Virus Disease. She comes from Kpondu, a village bordering Guinea and Sierra Leone in the Kailahun District in the East of the country. She is a daughter in-law to the local herbalist alleged to have brought Ebola to Sierra Leone from Guinea.


Taiwa was pregnant when her mother and father in-laws died of Ebola. According to Taiwa, she got infected and was taken to the Koindu Hospital but ‘I was not given proper treatment’. She ran away from the hospital and returned to the village, where she later gave birth to female twins, Mattu and Agnes Sahr, who are now 11 months old.

Having lost her husband, Taiwa returned to her parents’ house in the same village. She became traumatised and lost hope in life, and kept on thinking about how to take care of herself and the twins. She had no source of income and her parents were not able to support her. She could not also start a farm because of the children. She experienced a lot of uncertainties and faced an unpredictable future. The social protection support from the Government did not benefit her. Apart from the Kailahun Women in Governance Network (KWIGN) and SEND Sierra Leone, no other NGO has ever come to her rescue.

Through funds from OSIWA Christian Aid and Weitblick Germany, Taiwa is now supported together with other 259 orphans and 202 survivors in Kailahun district. As part of the larger beneficiaries, she received food and non-food items to meet her immediate needs. She now has a mattress where she and her children rest in comfort, and cooking utensils that she lost because of the Ebola Virus Disease to enable her cook.

For independence and resilience, Taiwa was supported with an initial capital of One Million Leones (about US$200) to enable her start a small business. She now sells soft drinks, and other assorted items patronized by residents of the village.

On our visit to her on the 22nd of May 2015, Taiwa was apparently delighted.

“I am now very happy, hopeful and confident about life,” she told us, and further explained about her recent activities.

“I was recently in Guinea to visit my uncle who was sick. One of my daughters, Mattu, fell sick while I was there. I used some of the profit from my business to take care of her medical bills. I did not get financial support from my parents. I now depend on my business and I am very happy I am doing so on my own. When you first came to this village last year, you met me almost naked and you asked me to find something to cover myself. I was ashamed. Now you see me well dressed and my children too. I bought all of these from proceeds from my business. I am happy that I am in business and I am making profit,” narrated Taiwa.
And she had a message for the Loan Officer of SEND Foundation Sierra Leone: “Please tell Esther what I have done. I have been able to save Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Leones with the Credit Union which I intend to use in the future to support my children and to expand my business. I am grateful to the Kailahun Women in Governance Network, SEND, OSIWA, Christian Aid and Weitblick Germany for helping me to be hopeful in life. See the way Agnes (one of the twins) is now active!”

Meanwhile, Taiwa wants to learn additional trade such as hairdressing to enable her become more resilient and independent.

The rest of the orphans and survivors need to be similarly supported to return to school, learn a trade or to engage in agricultural activities.

With just US$ 24,917.52, 16,000 pound and US$ 1,400 from OSIWA, Christian Aid, and Weitblick Germany, respectively, the KWIGN and SEND Sierra Leone have supported orphans, survivors and foster families with food and non-food items, psychosocial counselling, and monthly stipends to Six (6) Ebola foster families, and sensitized over 3000 women across the Kailahun District by supporting two community radios to educate the general public weekly about Ebola.

Credit: DEJA-SL.

Sarah Tamba: “I take care of six Ebola Orphans”

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)
Reporting from Kailahun

Sarah Tamba is the eldest survivor of six children who lost both parents to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Kailahun. It was their mother, Sia Jimmy, who first passed away in May 2014, less than a week after the first confirmed Ebola case was recorded in the district and Sierra Leone as a whole. Soon, their father, Sahr, contracted the disease and also died.


Sarah, 22, is now serving as the head of the family, looking after her six brothers and sisters: Sahr, Francis, Moses, Paul, Jamie and Sarta Jimmy. As with many cases of Ebola orphans, no support from relatives is forthcoming and the family has not been benefitting from the regular social protection packages from the government.

Sarah is a student at the Kissi Bendu Secondary School, while the rest of the children are in primary school. The four boys are attending the Spiritual Life Primary School and the two girls are in the Tollie Primary School.

As a student Sarah has no sustainable source of income to enable her support herself and the rest of the family. With no help from relatives either, Sarah is going through a lot of difficulty and as a young woman she has become very vulnerable.

“It is hard for me and it makes me unhappy every day,” she laments.

However, with support from OSIWA, Christian Aid through ICCO and Weitblick Germany, the Kailahun Women in Governance Network (KWIGN) and SEND Foundation Sierra Leone supported Sarah and her family with food and non-food items, school materials such as school bags, water bottles, books, pens and pencils, and more condiments.

In addition, for the past three (3) months, they have received monthly stipends of Two Hundred Thousand Leones to enable the family meet basic needs such as putting food on the table daily.

According to SEND Sierra Leone officials, this support will continue for another three (3) months.

Furthermore, the KWIGN and SEND Sierra Leone staff make monthly visits to the family providing psycho-social counselling to motivate and to help them understand the negative consequences of the disease and how to make choices that benefit them all.

Sarah is also part of the foster families trained on childcare and support, and the children are encouraged to continue school in order to enable them empower themselves for life and to live responsible lives.

Unfortunately, the future of these children is unpredictable. In three (3) months time, the OSIWA, Christian Aid, and Weitblick Funds will stop. Although SEND Sierra Leone and KWIGN have structures to support orphans and vulnerable women and children to live resilient and thriving lives they are unable to support 202 survivors and 259 orphans identified in Kailahun District due to limited resources.

Meanwhile, KWIGN and SEND Sierra Leone are also operating an Allowance Scheme supported by OSIWA and Weitblick Germany. The scheme is currently supporting six (6) foster families with 28 orphans. Each of these foster families has received training in child care to enable them provide care and support to orphans just as they care for their own children to grow up and live responsible lives.

The monthly stipends are expected to last for 6 months, from March to August 2015. For the past three months, six (6) foster families received the monthly stipends and basically used the money to buy food items and to support the daily needs of the family and the children. Some foster families, the women in particular, used the stipends to expand their petty businesses.

All the foster families interviewed said that the stipends support the basic needs of their families, and provided them with the leeway to engage in agricultural activities, such as the cultivation of rice, cassava and beans, to have enough food for the next season.

Some of the foster families are also able to use part of the money to get treatment for their children when they fall sick. They are able to send them to the hospital and foot the medical bills.

Other women who were already petty traders used the monthly stipends to expand on their businesses to be able to provide support to their own children and the orphans.

The monthly support will end in August 2015.

Credit: DEJA-SL

WHO calls for action against illicit tobacco trade on World No Tobacco Day

28 MAY 2015 ¦ GENEVA – Eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco would generate an annual tax windfall of US$ 31 billion for governments, improve public health, help cut crime and curb an important revenue source for the tobacco industry. Those are the key themes of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May when WHO will urge Member States to sign the “Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products”.

“The Protocol offers the world a unique legal instrument to counter and eventually eliminate a sophisticated criminal activity,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Fully implemented, it will replenish government revenues and allow more spending on health.”

So far, 8 countries have ratified the Protocol, short of the target of 40 needed for it to become international law. Once that happens, the Protocol’s provisions on securing the supply chain, enhanced international cooperation and other safeguards will come into force.

The Protocol is an international treaty in its own right negotiated by parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which has been ratified by 180 Parties. Article 15 commits signatories to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products.

The Protocol requires a wide range of measures relating to the tobacco supply chain, including the licensing of imports, exports and manufacture of tobacco products; the establishment of tracking and tracing systems and the imposition of penal sanctions on those responsible for illicit trade. It would also criminalise illicit production and cross border smuggling.

“The Protocol faces overt and covert resistance from the tobacco industry,” says Dr Vera da Costa e Silva, Head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat. “Manufacturers know that once implemented, it will become much harder to hook young people and the poor into tobacco addiction.”

The illicit tobacco trade offers products at lower prices, primarily by avoiding government taxes through smuggling, illegal manufacturing and counterfeiting. Cheaper tobacco encourages younger tobacco users (who generally have lower incomes) and cuts government revenues, reducing the resources available for socioeconomic development, especially in low-income countries that depend heavily on consumption taxes. This money might otherwise be spent on the provision of public services, including health care.

While publicly stating its support for action against the illicit trade, the tobacco industry’s behind-the-scenes behaviour has been very different. Internal industry documents released as a result of court cases demonstrate that the tobacco industry has actively fostered the illicit trade globally. It also works to block implementation of tobacco control measures, like tax increases and pictorial health warnings, by arguing they will fuel the illicit trade.

“Public health is engaged in a pitched battle against a ruthless industry,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the WHO’s Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases. “On this World No Tobacco Day, WHO and its partners are showing the ends that the tobacco industry goes to in the search for profits, including on the black market, and by ensnaring new targets, including young children, to expand its deadly trade.”

Policy makers should recognize that the illicit tobacco trade exacerbates the global health epidemic and has serious security implications. Ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products is a necessary step to combat these twin evils.

President Koroma Assures Ebola Survivors

During a meeting with over 20 survivors at State House on Monday 25th May 2015, President Ernest Bai Koroma has assured survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease of government’s readiness to provide them with the necessary social services till their lives return to normal.

President Koroma sitting center with child with Ebola survivors

President Koroma sitting center with child with Ebola survivors

He said when the epidemic was reported in May last year, people received the news with mixed feelings and interpretations and that the issue of denial resulted to the death of considerable number of people.

About 3,000 have died so far since the outbreak started and 4,013 survivors on record.

While expressing gratitude to Ebola survivors for their resilience, the President also commended the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs for what he referred to as ‘proactiveness in planning programmes for survivors’.

Presenting a group of Ebola survivors to the president, the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affair,s Alhaji Moijueh Kaikai, disclosed that the survivors are planning a massive anti-stigma sensitization campaign.

Yusufu Kabba of the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors described the meeting with President Koroma as a special moment. He said they are receiving support from government through the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.

FAMBUL TOK Organizes Community Consultations For Ebola Activities

By Solomon Yarjoh

After cessation of hostilities and declaration of the end of Sierra Leones’s civil war, it was evident that many organizations implemented community projects in various parts of the country. With millions of dollars offered by international donors and partners to the country for post war activities, nothing was actually realized as most of the projects had no sustainability plans, thus they collapsed.


One of the factors or reason that led to the collapse of many projects was the non-involvement of affected communities. A good number of affected communities were not consulted to identify needs and how they all could work towards sustaining them.
Based on these negative factors, and in order to avert such mistakes in post ebola activities, Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone has started convening community consultations in Kailahun district to allow people to identify their needs and also link them with appropriate organizations. These consultations are vital as community members speak frankly on how they were affected by the ebola disease, how they could work as individuals and collectively to ensure that the disease does not re-emerge and how they could work with Councils and other partners to rebuild their various areas.
Given the destruction caused by the ebola virus disease in the Kissi Teng chiefdom, Kailahun district, the people of Kissi Teng are now determined to ensure that ebola does not re-emerge any more in their communities.
Kissi Teng registered the first index case on May 25,2014 and within three months over 140 people were affected in the chiefdom. With over 145 days of no new infection in the entire district, the people of Kissi Teng, like other affected communities are grappling with numerous post ebola conflicts/challenges.
During consultation in Toli section on April 21, 2014, representatives from all 14 villages convened in Koindu town to highlight issues/challenges relating to post ebola. Participants admitted that they have a lot of issues affecting them such as ebola orphans,widows and widowers and agreed to work towards “no more ebola” in their chiefdom in particular and Sierra Leone as a whole. After consultation, participants were prevailed on to hold meetings in their various villages to highlight post ebola issues and how they intend to resolve them.
On Monday April 27, 2015, another meeting was held in Toli section and this time round participants catalogued various issues and suggested means to resolve them.
During the meeting, community members pointed out four key areas that should be done in Toli section They include loan/community grants, Agriculture and sectional memorial service for the dead especially ebola related deaths.
In his remarks, Executive Director, Fambul Tok International-Sierra Leone, John Caulker pointed out lapses in project implementation after the war. He said almost all post war projects in the country had no sustainability plan, attributing it to non-involvement of affected beneficiaries.
He said Fambul Tok has started this initiative so that such mistakes would not re-occur and communities should be involved fully in whatever plans or implementation of any post ebola activities. He said Fambul Tok does not give money but creates space for community healing and reconciliation, adding that the organization links communities with Kailahun district Council and other partners so whatever is designed for community development goes directly to communities.
A representative from Kailahun District Council, Donald Koroma also highlighted devolved functions of Council, adding that most people blame Council because they do not know how it operates. He also said his presence in the meetings was significant to know problems of post ebola communities and how Council should intervene. He expressed thanks and appreciation to Fambul Tok for such meetings.
However, Toli section has formed a committee with a responsibility to coordinate development programmes in the chiefdom.
Similar consultation was held in Konio section,Kissi Teng chiefdom

Estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide

World Malaria Report 2014 by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that There were an estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide (range 124–283 million) in 2013, and an estimated 584 000 deaths (range 367 000–755 000). 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.
Malaria is an entirely preventable and treatable mosquito-borne illness. In 2014, 97 countries and territories had ongoing malaria transmission.
An estimated 3.3 billion people are at risk of malaria, of whom 1.2 billion are at high risk. In high-risk areas, more than one malaria case occurs per 1000 population.
There were an estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide (range 124–283 million) in 2013, and an estimated 584 000 deaths (range 367 000–755 000). 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa.
In 2013, an estimated 437 000 African children died before their fifth birthday due to malaria. Globally, the disease caused an estimated 453 000 under-five deaths in 2013.
Between 2000 and 2013, an expansion of malaria interventions helped to reduce malaria incidence by 30% globally, and by 34% in Africa.
During the same period, malaria mortality rates decreased by an estimated 47% worldwide and by 54% in Africa. In the under-five age group, mortality rates have declined by 53% globally, and by 58% in Africa.
New analysis reveals that the prevalence of malaria parasite infection (including both symptomatic and asymptomatic infections) has decreased significantly in Africa since 2000. The number of people infected fell from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013 – a reduction of 26%. This has occurred despite a 43% increase in the African population living in malaria transmission areas.
Trends in the scale-up of malaria interventions
During the past 10 years, coverage with vector control interventions increased substantially in Africa. In 2013, almost half of the population at risk in Africa (49%) had access to an insecticide-treated mosquito net, compared to 3% in 2004.
In 2014, an estimated 214 million long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) were delivered to malaria-endemic countries in Africa, bringing the total number of LLINs delivered to that region since 2012 to 427 million.
In 2013, 124 million people were protected from malaria by indoor residual spraying around the world. In Africa, 55 million people, or 7% of the population at risk, lived in households that were regularly sprayed.
Access to rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) has been increasing around the world.
• The volume of RDT sales to the public and private sectors of endemic countries has increased from 46 million in 2008 to 319 million in 2013.
• The number of patients tested by microscopic examination increased to 197 million in 2013, with India accounting for over 120 million slide examinations.
• Globally, 392 million courses of ACTs were procured by endemic countries in 2013, up from 11 million in 2005.
In 2013, for the first time, the total number of diagnostic tests (RDTs and microscopy combined) provided in the public sector in Africa exceeded the total number of ACTs distributed. This indicates a prominent shift away from presumptive treatment and is thus an encouraging sign.
In Africa, the proportion of women who receive intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) for malaria has been increasing over time, although the levels remain below national targets. An estimated 15 million of the 35 million pregnant women did not receive a single dose of IPTp in 2013.
Progress in adopting and rolling out preventive therapies for children has been even slower. As of 2013, only six of the 16 countries where WHO recommends preventive therapies for children under five have adopted the treatment as national policy. Only one country has adopted the recommended preventive therapy for infants, but has not yet started rolling out the programme.
Drug and insecticide resistance
Emerging parasite resistance to antimalarial medicines and mosquito resistance to insecticides, if left unaddressed, could render some of the current tools ineffective and trigger a rise in global malaria mortality.
In recent years, parasite resistance to artemisinin has been detected in five countries of the Greater Mekong subregion: Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. In areas along the Cambodia–Thailand border, P. falciparum has become resistant to most available antimalarial medicines, and multi-drug resistance is a major concern.
Between 2010 and 2013, 53 countries globally have reported mosquito resistance to at least one insecticide. Of these, 41 have reported resistance to two or more insecticide classes. The most commonly reported resistance is to pyrethroids, the most frequently used insecticide in malaria vector control.
Progress towards global targets
The malaria-specific Millennium Development Goal (MDG 6 target C: to have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria) has already been met.
In terms of country-level progress, a total of 64 countries are currently on track to reverse the incidence of malaria nationally by 2015.
Of these, 55 are on track to meet the World Health Assembly and Roll Back Malaria Partnership target of reducing malaria incidence by 75% by 2015.
Funding remains inadequate
International and domestic funding for malaria control and elimination totalled US$ 2.7 billion in 2013. Although this represents a threefold increase since 2005, it is still significantly below the US$ 5.1 billion that is required to achieve global targets for malaria control and elimination.