Not All Are Ebola Deaths

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Liberia is considered the worst hit since the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the Mano River Union basin with over 2000 confirmed, probable and suspected deaths, but not all of these deaths are Ebola related, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has clarified.

The Liberian leader stressed recently that the country’s death rate has reflected high numbers because people who died from other illnesses due to the initial impact on the regular healthcare system have been recorded as Ebola victims due to the circumstances of their deaths.

She, however, indicated that requisite systems are now in place to remedy the situation by making sure that basic regular health services around the country are restored.

President Sirleaf made the assertion when she spoke at the launch of Youth Action International Coalition against Ebola in Monrovia last Thursday.

She admitted that the start of the fight against the Ebola virus disease was rocky and difficult, due to the strange nature of the virus, limited capacity, and the lack of initial tools for healthcare workers who are the front liners in the fight.   But she pointed out that the fight is now well on course.

President Sirleaf said  attitude and behavioral change are cardinal to breaking the transmission chain and ending the further spread of the deadly disease in Liberia.

She reminded the young people that attitude, behavior, as well as cultural and traditional values remain major challenges to efforts aimed at eradicating the virus from Liberia. She called on members of the coalition against Ebola to go all out and reach to communities and neighborhoods across the country with simplified messages of sensitization and awareness that will help change people’s behavior towards the deadly virus.

“We can do all to bring in international help as the case is now. We can build Ebola Treatment Units across the country, establish testing centers, bring in all the medication and personal protective equipment, but if the behavior of Liberians is not changed, the virus will continue to spread,” she warned.

“We must follow the preventive instructions from health authorities to save ourselves and our country,” the Liberian leader emphasized.

She pointed out that government is giving and will continue to give the deserved attention to ensure that the virus is eradicated from Liberia.

She lauded the efforts of heroes such as Montserrado District No. 13 Representative Saah Joseph, Dr. Jerry Brown and his team of the ELWA-2 Ebola Treatment Center, as well as all healthcare workers involved in the fight for their sacrificial services to the nation.

The Liberian leader thanked the Youth Action International Executive Director, Dr. Kimmie Weeks, and the young people for the initiative and promised that with all hands on deck, Ebola will soon be history in Liberia.

She rejected projections from international organizations that over one million persons across West Africa will die by January, adding that steps are being taken to reverse these pessimistic projections.

Speaking earlier, Montserrado County Representatives Acarous Gray and Saah Joseph, Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL) head, Patricia Kamara, representatives of the UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF) and the U. S. Embassy in Monrovia thanked the coalition of young people for the initiative. 

They joined President Sirleaf in expressing the hope that the virus will soon be history in Liberia. They committed themselves  to standing with the government and the young people to eradicate the virus from Liberia.

For his part, Youth Action International Executive Director, Dr. Kimmie Weeks,  pointed out that the undertaking was not a Youth Action International Initiative, but that of  different youth organizations that have been assembled under the guidance of his organization.

He indicated that he made a personal commitment not to leave Liberia until the Ebola virus disease is contained and eradicated from our shores.

Dr. Weeks pointed out that all member organizations of the coalition, numbering over 75 with over 6,000 youths, are already working on Ebola-related programs in various communities around the country. The goal, he indicated, is for all people to know how to protect themselves from the Ebola virus disease and thereby break the chain of transmission.

“Young people are most times efficient, but often get limited with no support. The international community and the government must ensure the empowerment of youth-based organizations that are committed to playing critical roles in the fight against the further spread and eradication of the virus,” Dr. Weeks urged.

He admitted that the Ebola battle is a fight for life and survival and that all must be done to the end the devastation of the country by this disease.

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