By Foday Moriba Conteh
As a way of supporting and enhancing the preparedness against the entry of the Coronavirus in the country, Sierra Leone’s leading telecommunications GSM moblie operator, Afrricell, has on Tuesday 24th March, 2020 donated a consignment of Personal Protection Equipment Kits to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The occasion took place at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Conference Room at Youyi Building in Freetown.
Presenting the items, the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Africell-Sierra Leone, Joe Abass Bangura, disclosed that during President Bio’s nationwide broadcast on Thursday 18h March 2020 and a subsequent Press Conference on Friday 19 March 2020, the 1st Gentleman announced enhanced public health and safety measures to prevent the corona virus (COVID-19) from entering the country furthering that these measures are already being implemented. He added that Africell would like to commend the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), which even before the President’s announcements had begun rolling out a number of COVID-19 preventive measures more than a month ago.
He noted that just like they did the right things during the Ebola response period, Africell is now pledging its support to the MOHS as it ramps up its efforts to prevent the entry and spread of the CORONA Virus in our nation, through four tangible actions:
- Presentation of 40 Medical Boots, 40 Protective Clothing, 40 Protective Goggles, 40 Surgical Masks and Gloves.
- Africell also announces the temporary relinquishment of occupancy of one of their Customer Service Outposts to host the Lungi Airport Corona Response Center.
The center, we are told, will be used to coordinate all response efforts at the Airport, for the albeit now limited air traffic into the country following the closure of the Airport to all commercial fights”.
He furthered that the use of electronic money to conduct financial transactions has been cited as an enabler for social distancing, a key virus transmission prevention measure.
In order to encourage their vast number of subscribers to use mobile money to conduct their financial transactions and further reduce face to face interactions, Africell announced the removal of all charges on all Person to Person (P2P) and Wallet to Bank (W2B) transactions for the next 90 Days.
He therefore urged Africell subscribers to activate their Afrimoney accounts and start conducting their financial transactions electronically, benefiting from the free charges and limiting their person to person interaction, keeping themselves and their families safe during this critical period.
“Finally, we also wish to announce that alongside our Media Partner, AfriRadio, we will today launch a Radio Public Information Campaign program on the CORONA Virus response. The program will be aired from 7pm-8pm on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and scaled up to a full weekday program as necessary. Similar to our “Join Han for Dreb Ebola” radio program in 2014, this program will be Simulcast on all AfriRadio frequencies in key cities and towns in the country, providing the latest updates on the response from the MOHS and its partners and driving the needed behavioral change from the populace. This program will go on until the current threat posed by the CORONA Virus is neutralized,” he disclosed.
He noted that Africell has a representation in the joint MOHS-MIC COVID-19 Communications Committee and they look forward to working with the Ministry and its partners on other relevant areas, critical to management of the COVID-19 Pandemic response.
“We would like to use this opportunity to appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to comply with all directives and measures announced by the Ministry and WHO. Like we defeated Ebola, together, we can work to defeat the CORONA Virus,” he inspired.
On his part, the Deputy Minister 11 of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Amara Jambai, on behalf of the Government applauded Africell for the donation noting that in a time like this having internal support like this gesture is laudable.
He said that the fight is not limited to certain individuals but it a collective fight which he believes Sierra Leone as a nation will definitely win, stating that the President has instituted some measures which implies that no life should be lost in this fight and not to create any discomfort to citizens.
He called on other institutions and goodwill personalities to follow the footstep of Africell saying he believes that Sierra Leoneans can do it again if they were able to do it again.
He admonished citizens to observe all preventive measures issued by the Government in order to prevent the coronavirus from coming into the country.
Receiving the donated items, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Abdurrahman Fofanah, expressed appreciation to Africell for what he described as a kind and timely gesture at a moment like this, adding that Sierra Leoneans should ensure that they adhere to all directives given by the Government and the Ministry of Health in order to prevent the disease from entering into the country.