The Liberian National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) has strongly refuted claims of its involvement in vaccinating patients suspected of having the deadly Ebola virus.
Although it has been established long since by the government of Liberia and its partners that there is no cure for the deadly Ebola virus, there have been rumors in the country for the last two days that health workers and promoters have been vaccinating victims of the virus across Monrovia.
The rumors also have it that people are going around from house to house vaccinating children to protect them from contracting the Ebola virus.
Reacting to the rumors, the Secretary General of the LNRCS, Fayiah Tamba, said the Red Cross is not and has never been involved in providing vaccines for Ebola in the country.
“We want to use this medium to inform our people that the Red Cross is not in the business of providing vaccines for any disease, not to mention Ebola,” he said.
“Fundamentally, we all have over and again heard from the government, international partners and even Red Cross, that Ebola does not have a cure. This means it does not have vaccines,” Mr. Tamba stressed.
He said since the rumor emerged, the Red Cross has received several calls from the public, some friends and partners, asking if the Red Cross was involved in providing Ebola vaccines.
“It is on the basis of this that we decided to send a team to authenticate this information. In as much as we are yet to gather where this information is coming from, we thought that as a national society and being a cardinal ally to the government in fighting Ebola in the country, there is a need to clarify this misinformation as quickly as possible,” he clarified.
The LNRCS Secretary General noted that there is no way an institution such as the Red Cross, which has been so much involved in the fight against the virus, will contradict itself and bring to public disrepute the efforts of everyone in this Ebola fight.
“We received those calls yesterday as a result of the good work that the Red Cross is doing in the country. People see us in the communities doing social mobilization, providing contact tracing services and providing psychosocial services to those affected by the disease.”
The Red Cross boss urged the communities to be swift in informing the Liberian National Police about any incident of someone claiming him/herself as a Red Cross Worker and giving Ebola vaccine.
“Why will people want to tarnish the good initiative that government, Red Cross and other partners have jointly taken to contain the spread of the virus,” he wondered, noting, “It is our hope that those involved will be caught and prosecuted, and if found guilty, dealt with accordingly.”
The government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, also denied reports that health workers have been sent in the field to vaccinate people or victims of the virus.
The Assistant Minister for Preventive services at the Ministry of Health, Tolbert Nyenswah, said on state radio that the information was not true, maintaining that there is no cure nor vaccine for the deadly virus.
He said anyone seen in the community with perceived Ebola vaccines should be arrested and prosecuted.