Liberia may have been delivered from the grips of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), but the factors that led to the rapid spread still persist, the Chief Administrator of the Foya-Borma hospital, Francis Fordia, has said.
Fordia, who has just returned from a medical conference in Sweden and Denmark, said until Liberians can begin to keep their surroundings clean, the risk of the rapid spread of infectious outbreaks is high.
“The issue of hygiene is a serious problem in this country. Until we can begin to take hygiene seriously, we will continue to live at the mercy of God,” Mr. Forndia said.
In an interview with the Daily Observer on Tuesday, Forndia, who faced the virus from the epicenter in Foya-where the first cases were reported, said the EVD can resurge or the country can be also invaded at any time by any other infectious disease with the same level of impact if Liberians do not change their hygiene habits.
“Let us look at the impact that malaria has and the number of people who have died from what we consider a common sickness. This is all because we don’t want to clean our environments. A lot of dirty water sits around where we’re living, with mosquitoes breeding in front and behind the houses. People do not want to cut the grass around their houses and these (behaviors) are unacceptable,” he admonished.
Monrovia has an endemic drainage problem that contributes to massive flooding in the city and its environs, he observed.
“Students have to walk through water from their homes to get to their destinations. Some of this water runs from sewage systems around the communities. So walking in this kind of water exposes people to lot of sicknesses,” he lamented.
“People will go out and spend the whole day in the streets and when they get home they will not wash their hands before eating. Do you know how terribly you are risking your life?” the Foya-Borma Administrator asked.
Fordia also noted that government and its partners can build all the best health facilities in the country and equip them with the latest medical devices, but if Liberians do not change their approach to hygiene, they will continue to fall prey to diseases.
Reflecting on his experiences in Europe, he said, “While in Sweden I did not see one piece of paper that was thrown in the street—nowhere did I see that. In every corner of the country I travelled, even the highways, they have standard garbage cans because you are not allowed to throw trash from your car out on the highways.”
He further warned, “Though we are not like them, Liberians should begin to emulate those good lifestyles if they are to live in clean environments and avoid diseases.
“This will also help us live longer as the Swedes are doing. What’s so extra about them? They are humans like us, but the difference is just our mindset which we need to change.”