“Liberians Encouraged Us to Join the Fight”

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The country director of Mercy Corps, Madam Penelope Anderson, has disclosed that it was due to the strong efforts exerted by the Liberian Government and people that led Mercy Corps to join the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the country.

Madam Anderson made the remark yesterday at the beginning of a two-day Ebola Community Action Platform (ECAP) held at Paynesville City Hall.

During the Ebola crisis, said Madam Anderson, other partners saw the great efforts that Liberians were making.  Despite the financial problems Liberians faced, they remained committed to the challenges.  This gave the partners hope to join Liberians in the fight.

“More and more Liberians were committed to join the fight and that was what prompted USAID to organize the ECAP platform to target communities within the 15 counties to provide better education about Ebola and the way forward to prevent it,” Madam Anderson said.

The Mercy Corps CD asserted that following the establishment of ECAP, they began to work with organizations within the 15 counties, to ensure that citizens were sufficiently educated to tackle the virus.

“Our combined efforts with civil society led us to achieve our success stories and now Liberia is on the verge of getting a certificate indicating that the country is free of Ebola,” Madam Anderson said with elation.

She pledged ECAP support to continuing the community engagement because it remains crucial to ensure that people in all corners of the country remain vigilant and know what to do in the case of an outbreak.

“Past experience has shown that even one case of the virus can have catastrophic impacts if appropriate measures are not taken to contain the virus.”

The social mobilization chair, Rev. John Sumo, said at the beginning of the EVD crisis, there were many challenges including financial and other support facing the Health Ministry.  At the peak of the EVD, strategies used to tackle the virus included what he described as ‘inter-personal communication, advocacy, reframing messages and total community engagement.

He cautioned Liberians to continue the preventive measures and urged them not to be complacent.

 Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister, Lewis Brown, who served as the keynote speaker, attributed the cause of the virus spread to what he termed as “skepticism on the part of the citizens that such a virus existed.”

This skepticism was among the government’s greatest challenges faced in combating the spread of the virus.

He praised national and international partners for their great support, describing it as “excellent partnership in the fight.”

“Despite efforts by the government to contain the spread of the virus, there were so many criticisms that the government wanted money, but we accepted all of that and today we are on the verge of winning the fight.

“Critics must continue to speak out because it’s their right,” said Minister Brown.

He thanked the USAID through the ECAP project and other partners for their continued support which has enabled the public to believe strongly that one day soon Liberia will be declared Ebola-free.

ECAP is a US$12 million social mobilization project, funded by USAID and developed by Mercy Corps together with Population Services International (PSI) to support the government’s Ebola response.

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