Via Reuters: Sierra Leone religious leaders criticize government handling of Ebola. Excerpt:
Religious leaders in Sierra Leone criticized the government's handling of an Ebola outbreak that has killed 194 people in the West Africa country, saying a lack of information was prompting rural communities to shun medical help.
Bishop John Yambasu, chairman of an interfaith task force, said he was "seriously disappointed" the government had failed to declare a public health emergency and pump more resources into the fight against Ebola, which has infected 400 people in the country during a regional epidemic.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said last week that Ebola had killed 603 people in total in Sierra Leone and neighboring Guinea and Liberia since February, the world's deadliest outbreak of the disease.
The highest number of deaths in recent weeks had been recorded in Sierra Leone, the WHO said. It warned of resistance from remote rural communities to allowing access to doctors amid fears that outsiders were spreading the disease.
"Every day in this country the number of new cases is increasing. To us as religious leaders that is unacceptable," Yambasu, head of the United Methodist Church of Sierra Leone, told Reuters. He said the government was too concerned by the "political connotations" of declaring an emergency.
Health Minister Miatta Kargbo has said the Ebola outbreak is "a serious matter" but has not reached emergency levels.
Amid a lack of funds to fight the outbreak, dozens of laboratory technicians at Sierra Leone's only Ebola-testing facility went on strike last week over a $20 monthly risk premium which they were promised but never paid.