MESSENGERS OF PEACE, Dialogue among Peace Messengers: Catching up on Ebola War

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Last week, through a firsthand experience, I noticed the high level of tardiness and lack of coordination in the reporting lines for Ebola response. Of grave concern is the wide communication gap between reporting and Ebola action. It took more than seven hours, from the time it was reported to the Ebola hotline team, to remove a dead man from the street of Mamba Pointe and we understand that was one of the quickest removal.

It is not clear to me and I am sure to many others if we are catching up on the Ebola war or the continuous spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is catching up with us. Our overstretched health care system is still struggling to cope with the spread of EVD.

More than seven months into this epidemic, it is our submission that current approach is weak, sub-divided and uneven. Therefore, we need a seamless response strategy-no gap. A common and comprehensive approach is required to catch up with the control and prevention of EVD.

It has taken us a long time coming into grips with this epidemic. Catching up on Ebola war requires a scale of vision that aligns with a scale of threat. To conquer this Ebola war; we need geographical social mapping of the spread of EVD, demographic information on those affected by the Ebola virus and human behavioral research to understand the sociocultural context of those health practices that lead to the spread of EVD. Essential to catching up, is the use of social networks that are critical to changing health practices.

What is perhaps required now and more than ever before is it to take up a lot of pressure off the health workers who are presently in the frontline. We need, as mentioned in all of our publications, a collective response to the scale of the challenge that presently confronts us. We also need a much faster approach to improve our under-resourced health care facilities.

With over 4,500 fatalities and a projected 9000 by end of this month, we need a game changer starting today. The threaten strike action by health workers is not catching up as this would fester the spread of EVD in Liberia. Our leaders should be good listeners and our frontline service providers should be good negotiators. EVD is not and should not be a precursor to violence. There is a need for calmness and coordination of efforts directed at a common goal — eradication of Ebola.

Our priority now should be about saving lives and this we can do through the establishment of more community care centers for laboratory testing, isolation and possible quarantining of contacts, increased community awareness and mobilization program and improved contact tracking and tracing program.

For the time being, a lot more still needs to be done and with the cooperation of everyone, this, too, will be a chapter in the history books of our country. At this moment, it is a big challenge that requires a more aggressive and transparent approach.

On our part and as part of preventive and control efforts to the propagation of EVD, Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia will continue to engage in community education outreach programs to rebuild trust in our health system and to provide information on the symptoms of Ebola virus, resource linkages to establish mobile clinics and groups that cater for young people and conduct capacity building and partnership strengthening programs for young people to reduce the impact of EVD using health promotion strategies.

From the standpoints of parsimony-(carefulness), specificity and reinforcement of current efforts, MOP considers it expedient to consider improving our health care system by adding more health care providers to the fight against Ebola. Use of faith based organizations, social networks and bi-lateral as well as multilateral cooperation is critical at this time.

Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “It takes a village” to control Ebola, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.

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