Crafting Policy in an Uncertain Crisis: Keeping Coronavirus Out of Sierra Leone.

What should the government of Sierra Leone (state, local and municipal level) be doing to keep the Coronavirus from reaching and spreading in Sierra Leone? Less than 72 hours ago, the President of Sierra Leone empathized and warned all Sierra Leoneans, saying, “It is no longer a question of whether the Coronavirus will come to Sierra Leone, it is a question of when”? In his nationwide broadcast speech, President Bio further urged all Sierra Leoneans to respect the protocol, including social distancing and personal hygiene.

Although as citizens it is our duty to call into question the preparedness of our nation’s health and related agencies, however, it is also our right to fairly support the government’s preventive measures in place to help fight this pandemic. Equally, we all must not shy away from commending the President and his government for their recent actions and plans to help combat and keep out the Coronavirus from our nation’s shores.

Besides these steps and action plans, important questions remain. Is the Ministry of Health and Sanitation ready and prepare to fight this virus if and when it reaches Sierra Leone? Does the proper government response include getting out of the way or working together with competent private entities better positioned to address the challenges? What role will the Fourth Estate play during this period? Can citizens hold themselves accountable to each other for their personal wellbeing and hygiene? Are extraordinary measures needed in both the state and local levels needed to alleviate this extraordinary Crisis?

To these looming questions, I posit some common-sense advice and recommendations to the government to help us as citizens of Sierra Leone to fight, and yes, overcome this pandemic if and when it reaches our nation’s shores. These recommendations are outlined below.

<strong>Painful and Restrictive Choices will have to be Made the Longer this Crisis Goes on Globally: </strong>The recently made decision to ban all international flights in and out of Sierra Leone is a significant step to help keep the Coronavirus away and from disrupting our nation’s ongoing economic growth. A bold and people-centered policy, of which I commend the government for their swift actions regardless of the social and economic constraints such actions will heap on our nation’s fledgling economy. I am confident this government has what it takes to justly and fairly regulate and advance the changes needed for a robust approach to facing this challenge head-on. It is, of course, a matter of choice and delivery.

<strong>Temporarily Unshackled Private Sector to help foster a cohesive and timely Response to Demands of a global pandemic: </strong>This period is extraordinary for both citizens and the government. So it is best practice to build allies and work in unity with the private sector to help coordinate and foster a collective response. With their expertise and resources, their support and outreach, the private sector can effectively complement the gaps of the public sector.

<strong>Boost Supply, Not Demand, During this Uncertain Crisis: </strong>News of the pandemic has impacted every pillar of our nation’s governing structure. We all hope during this challenging time, prices for foodstuff and fuel will not be skyrocketed, thus leading to inflation to all goods and services. We are hoping for some stability in the market.

<strong>Foster a Cohesive Relationship with the Fourth Estate: </strong>More than ever, the citizens of Sierra Leone need a clear channel of receiving and delivering updates on the Coronavirus. The relevant government ministry must diligently work with the Media and other civil society groups and organizations to reach the broader public during this extraordinary time.

<strong> We Must Pray our way out of this Crisis: </strong>We are not only a nation and peoples of laws and rules, but we’re also a nation and peoples of God. Let us all in our capacities reflect and bring in our faith and spirituality to help averts and prevent this Crisis from the shores of our beloved, Sierra Leone (Mama Salone).

In sum, let us all remember we shall overcome. Together, as Sierra Leoneans!

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