Our Country Director in Sierra Leone, Alfred Yambasu, reflects on the impact of Coronavirus and gives an insight into what this has meant for Vision Aid Overseas, working on the frontline of public health.

'The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on individuals and communities worldwide, and Sierra Leone is no exception.

In response to the high and rapid increase of the disease globally, in March 2020 the government of Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency for 12 months.  The airport and points of entry with Guinea and Liberia were closed. The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on 30 March 2020. Subsequently, all learning institutions were closed as of April; restrictions were placed on travel and trade between districts; lockdown and curfews were put in place.

With the government providing ongoing communication and public messaging on the risks of COVID-19, a sharp decline of hospital visits was recorded in many health facilities. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was insufficient to meet the needs, and global supply chains were struggling to meet demand.

The coronavirus restrictions and risk to public safety brought our program activities to a halt and so, in communication with the Kenema District Health management team (DHMT), we identified ways in which VAO could help with the response effort.

We would like to thank the Clothworkers Foundation for giving us the leverage to pivot part of our project fund to the tune of £5,156 to support the response to the pandemic in our operational areas.

The funds were used to support the District Health management team (DHMT) to carry out Surveillance, Case Management, and quarantine activities and for the procurement of PPE for 16 PHUs and 4 vision centres.

It was indeed timely to support the DHMT, PHUs and Vision centres as they were already running out of supplies of PPE, especially gloves, soap, hand sanitisers and masks.

This support is very timely as we had already gone short of the necessary supplies. We want to thank VAO and their funding partners for their immense support not only in this COVID-19 pandemic response but also in the eye care sector by increasing access to eye care through a primary eye care approach in the country”. – Lansana Sheriff, Eastern Province Eye Care Programme Manager

The items were further distributed to the Vision centres in Koidu, Kenema, Kailahun and Bombali.

 

We would like to extend our thanks to Clothworkers Foundation for helping support the national response to the coronavirus pandemic in Sierra Leone.