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Q&A with Babar Turay, Koidu city, Sierra Leone Koidu city: Koidu city:

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Presentation on theme: "Q&A with Babar Turay, Koidu city, Sierra Leone Koidu city: Koidu city:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Q&A with Babar Turay, Koidu city, Sierra Leone Koidu city: Koidu city:

2 1) Lots is being said about international organizations and governments are doing, but are local civil society organizations and communities also doing things? Yes in addition to donations made by international organizations and Government to address the Ebola crisis, local/community people have organized themselves into neighborhood watch and youth groups to surveillance the movement of people especially strangers in their communities by setting up 24hours checkpoints, sick people in the communities, burials, tracing of contacts especially of suspected persons and provision of information to authorities in a timely manner. Also while quarantine relatives in communities are assisted with food, communities have been the first groups to task themselves in providing food for their sick relatives before any outside help. In addition the preparation of community byelaws and the strict enforcement laws such as the non-accommodation of strangers without prior information to authorities, prompt report of sick cases to the community Ebola Task Force, the setting up of community temporary quarantine centers etc and the heavy fines levied on defaulters is the key reason for the drastic reduction of new infections in some communities like Kailahun today.

3 2) How is the government, and health authorities, addressing the cultural dimensions of the crisis, including the issue of traditional burials? The cultural dimension has been the most difficult part to handle in this crisis. The fact that research has proven that 70% or more of the transmission route has been associated to burials clearly indicates that if cultural practices are controlled today there will be a drastic reduction in the rate of transmission. However the heavy handedness of Government and health authorities on cultural practices without proper education of remote areas and even some urban settings on the virus and its mode of transmission were responsible for the many denials and escalated spread of the disease in the country. It is believed that Liberia the worst hit has been able to contain the crisis because of the total control of cultural practices relating to burials.

4 3) Is aid for Ebola being diverted, and if so to what purposes? These are information that are difficult to verify since the channels used by aid agencies and bi-lateral donors to assist the country are normally not clear to the public. What is clear though is that the tune of money and other assistance made by donors for the fight against the disease is less reflected on the ground especially in terms of support to sick persons, quarantine homes, less transparent distribution of items, some government and agency workers caught with food supplies meant for quarantine homes, the persistent decline in the quantity of money and food given to affected persons and homes. These are clear reasons to leave a lot of doubts on the minds of local people in the handling of the crisis by the powers that be.

5 4) Is the crisis having an effect on crime? Crimes in terms of some people blatantly challenging some authorities as a way of venting out their anger on the handling of the crisis yes, otherwise crime rate is seriously reduced or hardly heard about. However the usual domestic violence crimes, sexual harassment and rape cases, thieving, drug taking especially marijuana are still very high in the country but these can be hardly associated to the ebola crisis. It will be difficult to convince anyone that his/her sick mother at 80 who has been hypertensive for over ten years can suddenly be declared as ebola positive alone among the rest of her family.

6 5) Is the government been blamed, or praised for what is happening? The Government is being blamed by a greater majority of the citizenry of this country. In the first instance people believe that it was the ineptitude of government in putting the right mechanism in place especially along our borders with Guinea and Liberia that allowed the virus to slowly take Kailahum district three months after the news of the outbreak of the disease in neighboring Guinea. What Ivory Coast and others in the sub-region did we fail to do so here we are.

7 5) Is the government been blamed, or praised for what is happening? Also the slow response of government to the crisis even when it was in Kailahun and the use of political gimmicks that this was not the strong hold of the APC government was a total failure of the people in this country. Up to date no one dare to ask questions on the handling of the crisis or else you are branded to be making remarks that have the potential to destabilize the state and the ‘State of Emergency’ will be used to imprison you without due process. The popular radio presenter in the country Tam Bayoh was only last week release on a 50million Leones bail sortie for the same reason. Remember when many people are going hungry and dying and only few living healthy and in luxury, rumors will set in and the outcome will be resentment and anger against the few that are living well, in this case government officials and their relatives.

8 Documentary nCSo nCSo

9 “ 'A fight for national survival': Royal Navy ship sails to fight 'total war' against Ebola ” Sunday Express, 30 Oct 2014 Q& A with Babar Turay and the militarization of Ebola response

10 Militarization… ‘From a military perspective Ebola is like a biological warfare attack and should be countered accordingly. There needs to be a clampdown on human movement inside Sierra Leone and possibly to and from the country between now and late 2015 when it is hoped that an antidote will have been developed.’ US military

11 Derek Gregory on the militarization of the Ebola crisis We’ve been here before – ‘wars’ on this and ‘wars’ on that. It’s strange how reluctant states are to admit that their use of military violence (especially when it doesn’t involve ‘boots on the ground‘) isn’t really war at all – ‘overseas contingency operations’ is what the Pentagon once preferred, but I’ve lost count of how many linguistic somersaults they’ve performed since then to camouflage their campaigns – and yet how eager they are to declare everything else a war. These tricks are double-edged. While advanced militaries and their paymasters go to extraordinary linguistic lengths to mask the effects of their work, medical scientists have been busily appropriating the metaphorical terrain from which modern armies are in embarrassed retreat. Yet all metaphors take us somewhere before they break down, and the ‘war on Ebola’ takes us more or less directly to the militarisation of the global response.

12 Parallels made between the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘war on Ebola’ “The differences between the two “wars” may seem too obvious to belabor, since Ebola is a disease with a medical etiology and scientific remedies, while ISIS is a sentient enemy. Nevertheless, Ebola does seem to mimic some of the characteristics experts long ago assigned to al-Qaeda and its various wannabe and successor outfits. It lurks in the shadows until it strikes. It threatens the safety of civilians across the United States. Its root causes lie in the poverty and squalor of distant countries. Its spread must be stopped at its region of origin — in this case, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa — just as both the Bush and Obama administrations were convinced that the fight against al-Qaeda had to be taken militarily to the backlands of the planet from Pakistan’s tribal borderlands to Yemen’s rural areas.”,_will_the_u.s._go_to_%22 war%22_against_ebola/

13 Conspiracy theories “ We were told the US troops going to Liberia would be building hospitals and would not have contact with Ebola patients. A mother of one of those soldiers has called into Aaron Klien's radio show (report below) to say that the troops are instead being used as hospital orderlies to clean up the feces and vomit of dying Ebola patients. Her son managed a call out of Liberia in spite of a communication blackout that has been imposed on the troops. This report adds to the emerging preponderance of evidence that a plan is surely in place to spread Ebola throughout the US Military and of course, the American population. An additional red flag pointing to this reality is the decision to quarantine the returning troops at five different military installations. Multiple quarantine locations makes no sense and the communication blackout imposed on the troops speaks volumes about the true motive of the operation.” ‘Ebola Bulletin’ - no identification but circulated through emails

14 Misinformation “A woman who died of an apparent heart attack at a New York City hair salon on Tuesday will be tested for the Ebola virus out of “an abundance of caution” because she had recently been in West Africa, city health officials said.” New York Times, 18 Nov 2014 “The woman who just dropped dead in New York from Ebola substantiates the dire warnings infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm recently shared at an Ebola symposium. Please read this entire email very closely. Ebola is about to go viral in America. There have been major coverups and a campaign of disinformation that has put people off of guard.” Ebola-related email, 18 Nov 2014 => Tests came back negative, Mail online 19 Nov 2014

15 Politicization… In the context of mid-term congressional elections in the US, the Ebola crisis figure prominently in ads by candidates bola-becomes-a-big-issue-in-this-senate-race/ bola-becomes-a-big-issue-in-this-senate-race/

16 Critiques of militarized approaches “This is worryingly authoritarian, bad for public health, and strategically counterproductive. Despite its impressive logistics, the army makes only a marginal contribution to international disaster relief — and often makes things worse. Nor do soldiers “fight” pathogens — and the language of warfare risks turning infected people and their caretakers into objects of fear and stigma.” Alex de Waal

17 “Best practices in global health include efforts to be sensitive to national histories and cultures and to overcome the suspicions induced by outside health programs. Medicine in khaki is not only inefficient, it is bad practice. British, French, and American armies have a history of imposing control in the name of hygiene, cordoning off a city or as-yet-insufficiently governed parts of the global borderlands…. In much of Africa, public health has struggled to free itself from the way it was implicated in coercive colonial control measures.” Alex de Waal

18 “We are soldiers and we are willing to come here,” said Jielie Zhang, a nurse from Beijing. She is part of a delegation sent by the Chinese government to aid in caring for victims of the Ebola virus. She and her colleagues give patients small stuffed panda bears that they brought with them from China. Glenna Gordon for The Wall Street Journal

19 Fund raising event by SFU students When: Monday, December 1, 2014, 7pm to 10pm. Where: the HiVE, #210-128 West Hastings Street, Vancouver. What: an evening reception with live music, drinks, appetizers, a silent auction, MSF speaker, and general merry-making in support of a very good cause. Who: everyone is welcome to this fundraising event organized by a volunteer committee of students and faculty from SFU's School for International Studies. How: tickets are $25 with $20 directly donated to MSF; each ticket gains entrance, one free drink, and appetizers; a cash bar will also be on site. Tickets can be purchased at: tickets-14334032477 For more information, please see the attached poster or the event's Facebook page: or contact Elizabeth Cooper at eccooper@sfu.ca tickets-14334032477

20 Sources Leach, M., I. Scoones, A. Stirling (2010) Governing epidemics in an age of complexity: Narratives, politics and pathways to sustainability. Global Environmental Change. ebola/ present-liminal-working/ present-liminal-working/ Farmer, Paul Infections and Inequalities 1999 University of California Press Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative Par Priscilla Wald

21 Documentaries k k Short BBC on situation in village of Kigbal, SL Longer BBC on situation in Freetown

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