For the past two and half months (August, September, and October) two series of my religious articles have focused on the Ebola crisis in Liberia. The first five-part series attempted to answer the question of whether Ebola is a curse from God or a natural or man-made virus disease, and the second series looked ahead at what to consider after Ebola is defeated and kicked out.
The first series proceeded as follows. This introductory article centered on the Ebola crisis that is the cause of concern. Is Ebola a curse from God? In the second article the question of divine judgment was discussed. The third article delved into divine providence (God’s ability to bring good out of evil). The focus of the fourth article was on human responsibility in the context of a disaster. And, the fifth and final article considered the possibility of a crisis being an opportunity for change and positive transformation of existing state of affairs.
In the second series six aspects of the topic of post Ebola Liberia were dealt with in some detail. The introductory article considered the devastating consequences of Ebola on every aspect of our national life. The second gave serious consideration to a crisis as an opportunity to change for the better. The third article focused on a call for a fundamental change in our mindset and attitudes. In the fourth article made some concrete proposals to the government and the powers that be. The fifth article delved into the role of the religious community. And, the sixth and final article paid particular attention to the role of each and every individual Liberian and every international partner who has come to help.
What I intend to do for the next few weeks or months, depending on how the Ebola outbreak plays out, is to be reflecting on the Ebola menace and the war against it as they unfold. So there is no number of articles determined yet. This determination will be made as the Ebola crisis and the fight against proceed. For now we will be considering topics like the need to intensify the fight against Ebola, seriously evaluating our strategies and interventions thus far and seeing how adequate they are or are not for phase two, issues surrounding the upcoming special senatorial elections, the kinds of messaging, support for Ebola survivals and health workers involved in the fight, and what to do about the many orphans caused by Ebola.
We begin from where we left off from the second series on post Ebola Liberia. The last article of that series gave consideration to the role of everyone in the war against Ebola. It asked this question, “What are we doing now as the government, health workers, media, internal partners, inter-religious community, civil society organizations, teachers, security forces (army, police and immigration personnel), traditional leaders, and communities in the fight against Ebola that will serve us well in attending to some of the post Ebola challenges that will inevitably follow? What lessons can everyone involved learn to deal with the aftermath of Ebola and other future emergencies, and making our society safer and better for all?”
We made the point that the health experts inform us that we are now at the second phase of the war against Ebola. The first phase went through a period of a lot of denial, the spreading of the virus disease out of control, panic and fear and then the overwhelming of everyone concerned and involved. Then support from the international community began to come in numbers, and the government, local and international partners learned from early mistakes, acquired new skills and techniques in handling the emergency, and made some considerable progress.
The good news is that the rate of infection is declining in many parts of the countries with some notable exceptions. Phase two is a great opportunity and is at the same time a big risk. This is a great opportunity if we accelerate our gains and kick this deadly virus out of the country and the region, and a grave risk if we become complacent. The gains made thus far is the result of the combined efforts of everyone—the government, health workers, media, internal partners, inter-religious community, teachers, civil society organizations, security forces (army, police and immigration personnel) traditional leaders, and communities.
I add my voice to many calling for an acceleration of our combined efforts (the government, health workers, media, internal partners, inter-religious community, teachers, civil society organizations, traditional leaders, and communities) to fight and defeat Ebola out of Liberia and the region. Let there be a district to district, community to community and house to house campaign emphasizing the risks as well as the opportunities in phase two of the war against Ebola. The next article will focus on the how.