By Mick Krever, CNN
Despite a slow international response and a country struggling to emerge from war, Sierra Leone may soon be able to control the outbreak of Ebola, President Ernest Bai Koroma told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
“The response we had expected was not in on time, and that created a situation [in] which we had the virus way ahead of us. We are now trying to cope.”
“There has been an increase in international response. And I believe the structures we are now putting in place – very soon we will get to the point wherein we will be able to contain the virus.”
The World Health Organization estimates that there have been 3,706 Ebola cases in Sierra Leone and 1,259 deaths since the outbreak began.
Ebola “transmission remains intense in Sierra Leone,” WHO says, and has now documented cases in every district of the country.
The government has come under criticism for not treating patients in their homes, and only at large facilities.
“We don’t treat people at home as a matter of government policy. In fact, we do appeal to families to bring out sick people. And what we have a challenge on is limited bed capacities in our treatment centers.”
That limited capacity is partly a result a country, and an infrastructure, still struggling to recover from civil war.
“We were busy building our infrastructure, building our democracy and other things when Ebola struck,” President Koroma said.
“Of course, it has its economic consequences. A lot of businesses are closing down. The job opportunities are going. The government revenue is reducing. The prices are on the increase.”
“So it has disrupted the growth pattern that we have established over the years, and it’s definitely going to affect us moving forward.”
To aid Sierra Leone’s efforts, the U.K. government has sent army medics to the country.
“They are helping us to address the gaps that we had in our fight – that is increasing the bed capacities in our treatment centers.”
“The three, four sites that are now being constructed by the British will have their own laboratory, because we will require additional laboratories.”
“And they are also helping us in training our health workers. This is very critical.”
“In all of what of we are doing, we need qualified health workers to come in and run the treatment centers, run the laboratories, run the Ebola community holding centers, and also helping the training of people that will be involved in the contract tracing and surveillance. These are all components in the fight against Ebola.””