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US Ambassador Updates the Press

The United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, has on Wednesday 31st August 2022, engaged the press in Sierra Leone about the importance of health and the return of peace corps volunteers to Sierra Leone. The event occurred during a Press Roundtable at the US embassy in Freetown.

 In his opening statement, David Reimer thanked the press for gracing the occasion in the first of what he hoped will be the first in a series of Press roundtables.

He acknowledged the unrest from earlier this month, and expressed his deepest condolences on behalf of the American people, to the families of those who lost their lives during the events of August 10th, as well as those who lost their lives during the flooding on August 28th 2022. 

He added that the role of free and independent press is critical to a democracy in which the government is accountable to the people, as this is one of the values that the United States and Sierra Leone deeply share. He continued that as they look to the future, he urged a commitment from all sides to de-escalate tensions. As dialogue, respect for human rights, and the rule of law should be guiding principles for everyone as they work to resolve their differences peacefully and productively. He called for all to refrain from violence, and urged the country’s leaders – in both talk and action – to bridge divides and work to unify Sierra Leoneans following the violence.

The United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer addressing the Media

 David Reimer underscored that health is very important in nation building, and that he is pleased to announce the return of Peace Corps Volunteers to Sierra Leone, as it is a great news and they are all very happy about it.

He went on to say that after completing their 10 weeks pre-service training, the 17 new volunteers will be officially sworn in on Friday, 9th September 2022, at the peace corps training facility in Kambia. He further said that 5 of the volunteers will serve alongside Community health workers, focusing on child and maternal health – as they will be working with women and caregivers to promote healthy pregnancies, safe deliveries, and healthy children. 

He stated that they will also be working with community health workers to improve their skills to deliver education, and working with youths to increase their knowledge to improve their health and wellbeing.

Speaking in the health grid in Sierra Leone, David Reimer, disclosed that he is pleased to announce progress on a project that is going to literally turn on the lights in rural health communities across Sierra Leone, added that access to stable, reliable electricity is key for health care providers to treat people, and electricity should be a privilege for health care clinics in major cities.

The CEO of the Watch  Newspaper posed with the Director of Peace Corps Sierra Leone and the Head of CDC Sierra Leone

The US ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, highlighted that they are expected to finish installation on the first of what will be 31 clean energy facilities for rural health clinics, in 2022.

He asserted that Health Grid is collaboration between the U.S. government through USAID, the non-profits RESOLVE and World Vision, and private sector partner Orange Sierra Leone, together with the Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and sanitation.

 He stated that the project will total almost $2 million, of which around 40 % is funded through USAID. He went on to say that the project will also include a sustainability fund of about $ 100,000, which will enable long term maintenance and oversight of the facilities.  HealthGrid will install sustainable solar energy systems for 31 remote, off-grid, health facilities in Sierra Leone.

David Reimer affirmed that each system will be so efficient, that it will also generate extra electricity, which will help provide power to the communities surrounding the healthcare facilities – and the project will also install and maintain internet connectivity equipment at each healthcare facility, as well as water and sanitation equipment at selected sites.

He mentioned that Health Grid, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, has selected 16 facilities for this program, throughout Sierra Leone, and they are expected the first installations to be completed by the end of the year. 

He affirmed that on Monday 29th August 2022, they celebrated the graduation of 35 students of the U.S centers for Disease control (CDC), Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP). Highlighted that the CDC Field Epidemiology Training Program was established in 1980 to train what could be called “disease detectives” all over the world.

The FETP program in Sierra Leone began in 2016, shortly after the West African Ebola outbreak. Since then, they have trained over 300 Sierra Leonean “disease detectives”, and Sierra Leone has successfully met the global benchmark for trained epidemiologists.

He concluded that the impact of trainees of the program have on health in Sierra Leone speaks for itself, and that graduates of this program lead investigations on outbreaks of diseases like Lassa fever, Monkey pox, Ebola, COVID-19, and Polio to name a few. But thanks to the program, there are trained disease detectives in all 16 districts in Sierra Leone.

He also added that in 2022, the United States partnered with the ministry of Agriculture to launch Sierra Leone’s first veterinary epidemiology training in Sierra Leone, which will train veterinarians how to detect and respond to infectious diseases found in animals.

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