$140K of Ebola Supplies Sit Unused in Sierra Leone

Party politics may be preventing access to shipment
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2014 9:18 AM CDT
$140K of Ebola Supplies Sit Unused in Sierra Leone
On Sept. 24, 2014, health care workers spray disinfectant as they enter a makeshift morgue with the bodies of people suspecting of dying from the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone.   (AP Photo/ Tanya Bindra)

A shipping container full of much-needed supplies to fight Ebola arrived in Sierra Leone almost two months ago—and it's still sitting on the docks, the New York Times reports. In a period that has seen hundreds die, some $140,000 worth of protective gear, mattresses, and stretchers has been inaccessible due to partisan concerns and official disagreements. "We are still just hoping (!!!)—which sounds like BEGGING—that this container should be cleared," an official wrote to superiors when the container had already been there for weeks. Sierra Leone's situation is dire: The nation recorded 121 deaths in a single day over the weekend, Reuters reports.

One issue is the country's agency dealing with the virus; it's not clear who's in charge, says a foreign official. Then there are political concerns: The shipment was arranged by an opposition politician, and an official suggests the government doesn't want to give the opposition a reason to boast. Meanwhile, the shipment caused bureaucratic disagreement within the government. "They are blaming us for shipping in without authorization," says the shipment's organizer. "It appears all they are interested in is cash donations. And all we have are supplies." The case isn't isolated: The Times points to a man in Canada facing similar problems getting supplies into Sierra Leone. "There is no positive response, no feedback, no anything," he says. (More Ebola stories.)

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