Nimba Health Officer Wants Politics Avoided in Ebola Fight

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The Health Officer of Nimba County, Dr. Collins Bowah, has called on politicians lay politics aside for now as the fight against Ebola is ongoing.

Dr. Bowah, who did not call any name, said if the politician used to the Ebola awareness to gain popularity the fight against Ebola would not yield the needed fruit, nor would the citizens take it seriously.

Speaking at the turning over ceremony of the Ebola Center in Ganta on last Monday, Dr. Bowah cautioned that people will not take the issue very seriously if they see pictures of politicians attached to Ebola Awareness poster or banner.

“The people will feel that the Ebola is intended to gain political popularity and not a serious matter afflicting the country and its people, as the Liberian government and the press has been stressing,” he said.

The local authorities, including health officials, have been receiving some tough times in mobilizing the citizens in the fight against Ebola in many quarters of Nimba.

Even though it was not clear which of the politicians Dr. Bowah was referring to in his remarks, there have been some murmurings among health workers that politics was dominating the fight against Ebola.

In Gbehlay Geh recently, some families refused to allow health workers to take specimen of their relative who was suspected of having Ebola until after the local authority intervened.

Dr. Bowah described as surely an act of selfishness politicians   using their pictures on the banners carrying Ebola awareness messages.  This was intended for nothing more that to make them popular to the people.

He foresees danger in this, he said, because as he put it, “people will take the whole thing as a nothing more than a political campaign and they  will not take the anti-Ebola campaign seriously.” 

Meanwhile, there has been some wrangling among the county officials over how the US$ 100,000 allotted to fight Ebola in Nimba has been  handled.

The Nimba Legislative Caucus accused the County Superintendent and his close  associates of mismanaging the money on things that it was not intended for.

According to Senator Thomas S. Grupee, the allotment was intended to procure protective gears for health workers and enough for all health centers across Nimba so as to keep the health facilities opened.

But instead, he said, the county officials gave 30% of the money to the health team while the balance was spent to purchase motorcycles for statutory superintendents; while some of the funds were   divided among chiefs and local radio stations to carry on awareness.

Currently there are no adequate ambulances in Nimba to transport sick persons quickly to the treatment center in Monrovia.

Vehicles to remove corpses for burial are also lacking, thereby leaving many dead bodies in homes and in the streets for days.

The issue of rapid response when someone is sick has been the key issue discussed around Ganta with most citizens condemning the government for not purchasing enough ambulances to take sick persons quickly to hospital, but leaving them in communities, thereby causing others to contract the disease.

“You can see the officials riding cars with the inscription “Ebola Response Task Force”, yet many are dying because there is no vehicle to carry them quickly to be treated,” a bystander observed.

In the fight against Ebola, Nimba County has received several cars, including two new cabin cars, but these cars are used for what the local officials claimed as “administrative purposes.”

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