Bomi County Superintendent, Samuel F. Brown says the spread of Ebola in the county would have been minimized if citizens had adhered to the advice of health authorities.
During an interview with the Daily Observer recently, Superintendent Brown regretted that people in the county hold on to their traditions so strongly that they did not agree at the outset to suspend some of their traditional activities and practices as advised by health and county authorities.
The uncontrollable spread of the virus in the county, said the superintendent, was the result of the refusal of some people to avoid contact with Ebola patients and washing of dead bodies. The denial of the existence of the Ebola virus also contributed to more people contracting it.
The Bomi Superintendent expressed delight that the treatment and care centers in the county had been constructed to help contain the Ebola virus. He told this newspaper that citizens of the county are also now responding to advice from health and local authorities and are slowly suspending their traditional activities.
He said the erection of an ETU in the county coupled with the training of health workers would greatly help to reduce and prevent new cases arising in the county. Because of the lack of treatment and care centers, people were compelled to be in close contact with their sick relatives thus contracting the disease themselves.
It may be recalled that last August following the declaration of the state of emergency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties quarantined because of the raging Ebola spread reported there.
The traditional practices referred to by Superintendent Brown are rooted in the people’s religious beliefs namely, Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religion.
Islam is the dominant religion in the county and believers subscribe to washing of dead bodies and washing their faces with water which is afterwards used to wash a senior cleric.
Those subscribing to the African Traditional Religion are said to deny that Ebola exists and they apply herbs to sick persons thereby contracting and transmitting the virus.
Most Christians, on the other hand, hold on to the belief that the power of the Holy Spirit can cure any disease, and they believe in the laying of hands on the sick, including Ebola patients, to pray for them and extinguish the “evil spirits.”
All these practices, rooted in the beliefs of the people, Mr. Brown said, are responsible for the rampant spread of the virus. But he indicated that people are becoming more responsive to the messages and advice from health authorities.