As the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) wreaks havoc on citizens of the Mano River Union sub region, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, where at least 4 persons died last week from the disease.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare recently announced a renewed outbreak of the Ebola virus in New Kru Town.
The latest outbreak in the country, which claimed the lives at least seven persons, has increased the death tally to 16 from 22 “cumulative cases.” One of the seven included a health worker at the Redemption Hospital, who was infected by the virus while attending to a patient, who also died from the virus.
While Liberia’s number may seem small, the disease is ravaging neighboring Guinea, which has now recorded 264 deaths from 394 confirmed cases. In Sierra Leone, also Liberia’s neighbor to the west, 49 deaths have been recorded from 92 confirmed cases.
President Sirleaf had gone to the Redemption Hospital on Bushrod Island to sympathize with the administration, nurses and staff there, who are mourning the loss of their colleague, Esther Kesselee. She also wanted to ascertain the state of affairs at the hospital relative to its preparedness to cope with an influx of patients should the need arise.
At the hospital, President Sirleaf said she was visiting them to pay tribute to the administration, nurses and staff for their courage and sacrifices to the nation and promised government’s fullest support for their service to the country.
She called on all Liberians to see the Ebola pandemic as a national emergency and stop politicizing it. Only a united front will complement the efforts of government and its partners to successfully fight the virus, the President said, as she expressed her government’s commitment to fighting the pandemic.
Also speaking during the President’s visit, the Assistant Minister of Health for Curative Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, informed President Sirleaf of the challenges faced by health workers in the fight against the outbreak, including fear and denial.
He explained that the nurses at the Redemption Hospital are seriously traumatized by the death of their colleague which has also affected their zealousness to work as they fear being infected by the virus while attending to suspected cases.
Mr. Nyenswah disclosed that based on the demand of health workers since the death of their colleague, the administration has fumigated all the strategic areas at the hospital, which has helped to alleviate their fears.
One challenge Mr. Nyenswah highlighted was that family members of the dead victims are resisting the instant burial of these fatalities, which is one of the surest ways of prevention. He said family members were demanding the remains of their dead relatives for burial in keeping with normal traditions which he said if not curtailed will also hinder prevention efforts.
The Representative of the World Health Organization, Dr. Nestor Ndayimirije, who provided updates to the Liberian President on the recent outbreak, agreed with Assistant Minister Nyenswah that government and its partners were not only fighting the Ebola virus but also trying to allay the fear that has caused health workers to sometimes desert patients. He indicated that the Liberian leader’s visit to the hospital was a great motivation to the health workers in dealing with the fear factor.
The WHO Representative, on behalf of the United Nations family, renewed its commitment to partnering with Liberia in the fight against the virus.