President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on the people of Grand Bassa County, especially members of the county task force on Ebola and health practitioners in the county, to be vigilant and proactive in the execution of their responsibilities. This, the President said, would ensure that the Ebola virus is kicked out of the county and country.
When each individual or group diligently and efficiently executes its responsibilities, the killer Ebola virus, which has claimed over 1000 lives, will be contained in the country sooner than expected, she said.
She spoke last Thursday when she visited Grand Bassa County where she met and briefly chatted with a cross section of the citizenry while on her way to the capital, Buchanan. She also toured health facilities beginning with the Bokay Town health center. The climax of her visit was with the Liberia Government Hospital in Buchanan.
She held a brief meeting with members of the county task force on Ebola, headed by the County Health Officer (CHO) Joseph L. Kerkula. She was briefed on the status of the county in regards to the virus and some measures instituted by the task force in containing Ebola.
President Sirleaf told the citizens of Bassa that they should be committed to the fight against the virus by doing what they have been told to do. “We need to be vigilant if we are to win this fight; let everyone do what he or she has been told to do. For us who are not medical people, we have been told to follow certain guidelines. Please let us follow them.”
“All of us need to fight this disease. We need to follow the advice of the medical people. Let us do what the people are telling us. That is the only way we will win this war. Let us avoid the sick, though it is hard. But we need to do so because that is the only way we can contain the virus. Let us call on the health workers to take care of the sick people because they are trained in handling things like that,” she told the citizens.
If everybody works diligently and collectively, she said, Liberia and Liberians will triumph over the menace of Ebola, and this will enable everyone to go back to their normal businesses and also enable government to embark on its development initiatives that have been impeded by the outbreak of the virus.
“We were steadily progressing with our infrastructural development, but the outbreak of this disease has hampered our development agenda. But if we can work together to defeat this Ebola virus as soon as possible, we all can go back to our normal businesses.
“We need to get back to building the roads, ports and other infrastructures to will enhance the country’s development,” she averred.
Briefing the Liberian leader at the task force meeting at the Fairground in Buchanan, the CHO and head of the county task force, Joseph Kerkula, said the County Health Team (CHT), since its encounter with the first Ebola case in July, now has 44 confirmed cases.
Of this number, he noted, there have so far been 21 casualties, while the others are still undergoing observation and treatment. He said CHT has put into place several measures to contain the spread of the Ebola virus in the county. These included creation of massive awareness, contact tracing and setting up community structures for disseminating awareness messages.
Dr. Kerkula underscored the need for the construction of an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) and for more support from central government and partners in combating the virus in the county.
Grand Bassa registered its first Ebola case when a man travelling to Rivercess County got extremely ill and was taken to the St. Peter Claver Health Center, where he tested positive after showing several symptoms of the virus.
According to Hamilton Quayeson, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buchanan, which runs the St. Peter Claver Health Center, when the first case occurred, the facility was immediately shut down because they were not trained or prepared enough to handle the case.
The facility was closed for more than 21 days and the entire place sprayed more than twice before reopening. It is now offering normal services to the people of Bassa.
The Liberian President also held talks with health practitioners at each of the facilities that she briefly visited. To each of the centers, she donated rice and money.
Some of the clinics and hospitals visited include Bokay, Llodysville, ArcelorMittal Liberia Hospital, the Catholic- run St. Claver Health Center, the Government Hospital. She made stops in towns and villages, encouraging the people to follow the preventive measures.
Heads of all of the health facilities visited said that their facilities are still offering normal services to their populations, to the delight of the Liberia President, who had craved for the facilities’ door to remain open to treat normal sicknesses.