The Gambia will host the first ever major international conference on Ebola in West Africa at the end of February. Organised by the Sierra Leone Embassy in The Gambia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the conference will for the first time bring together a large cadre of international personalities from different professions dealing with the Ebola crises.
Addressing a preparatory press conference yesterday at their new Bijilo Embassy compound, the Sierra Leonean ambassador to The Gambia, Soulay Daramy, explained that the initiative was taken by his office which has set up a unit called Rescue Sierra Leone and it is aimed at complimenting efforts to fight Ebola back home.
Ambassador Daramy said the conference is by extension a venture of the Mano River region, and it was only confirmed after thorough consultation with the Gambia’s Ministry of Health.
“This conference which is tentatively, slated from 26-28 February is designed to hold a soul searching discussion on the roots and branches of the cause of Ebola, its origins, effects and other complications; this rare disease that has caused immense havoc in the Mano River region of West Africa,”
Ambassador Daramy further said: “We will have scientists, journalists, politicians, biologists and other renowned professionals from across the world to this Banjul conference. We are hopeful that such a meeting is essential to sensitise the people both in Africa and beyond to ensure a proper comprehension of the issues surrounding this Ebola sickness.”
He further revealed that The Gambia has been chosen to host this seminar because of its strategic location and the all important reason that it is seen to be the safest and most comfortable venue since it is Ebola free.
“In addition, the Gambian president is the first person to have supported the Ebola-hit nations through huge financial donations on the very onset of the crises,” Daramy said.
According to him, The Gambia plays host to a large number of Sierra Leoneans which made it a unique and strategic place to conveniently propagate proper education and information about Ebola to not just Sierra Leoneans here but the world beyond.
The Ambassador said it is hoped that this Banjul conference, with all its important and key attendants, will positively change the misconceptions about Ebola. “The devastation caused by this, and the often stigmatisation of the whole of West Africa needs to be halted,” he stressed.
Ambassador Daramy said they had already worked out with Ministry of Health as to who can come, what the topics are, noting that all necessary information have been supplied.
Other speakers at the press conference included Augustine Smith, a member of the Rescue Sierra Leone Committee and Andrew Kamara, head of chancery.
By Lamin Cham & Abdoulie Nget