President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that members of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and officers of the Liberia National Police are on standby to ensure that safety and preventive rules emanating from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in fighting the Ebola virus are adhered to by the Liberian public.
The fight against Ebola should be seen as a national endeavor, and as such, officers of the AFL and LNP are to contribute their quotas by making sure that citizens obey the Health Ministry’s mandates.
Speaking on what was supposed to have been the launch of Strategic Plan for Accelerated Response to Re-occurrence of Ebola Epidemic, President Sirleaf said: “If you notice, we have the Defense and Justice Ministries here. This is to send a major message to all that it is serious; that we need compliance, we need information, sensitization; we want everyone to see this as a national endeavor, and a national fight, because this disease is serious.
The strategic plan launch should have coincided with the meeting of the National Task Force on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW); but was cut-off due to recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO recommended that the plan be re-done in order to include some cardinal items that need to be injected into the document before it is launched.
Speaking of the spread of the Ebola virus, the Liberian leader further said, “Today it is in this communitry, that community, in this county or that county; but if we do not fight it with intensity and seriousness, tomorrow it could be in your community. And this is why it is important that we all get involved.”
“You see our gallant men of arms that are here today, this is to send a message to everybody that if they have to come into the communities and tell you that you must go to the health workers, that you must subscribe to the rule that says allow the health workers to bury the dead in the right manner by protecting others. They are prepared to come in there and to stand there and ensure that the right things are done,” she insisted.
The Liberian President noted that it is no longer time for denial as the virus is now killing more people.
“This situation is real. Fortunately, with the support we have received, with the consciousness that we have for all of our health workers, we have been able to keep it under control and to manage it.”
She stated that government and its partners need to go beyond managing the virus and fight to eradicate it. “We’ve got to solve the problem; we’ve got to address it. And to do so, we have to ensure everybody has to work.
She called upon her Cabinet Ministers, many of whom were in attendance, to work in their communities. “You need to call your community workers together and say this is what we need to do. We need to go to every household, to every hamlet, every institution and to make sure that they follow the rules that have been put down by MOH.”
“Don’t deny it; don’t hide it. That will not help you and it will not help the nation. So… I’m calling on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to call the Superintendents, the District Commissioners, the Mayors from the counties to have town hall meetings, all geared towards sensitizing our people and carrying this message very strongly.”
President Sirleaf said the lack of funding should not and will not be a constraint in the fight against the Ebola virus.
“All of us need to get engaged; we need to work; it is not so much a matter of financial resources; let us not dwell on that. Financial resources are scarce in our nation, given the many things that are being prioritized at the same time; but that is not the reason that we cannot fight this disease,” she said.
“We have received assistances from partners, and the government itself has done what it needs to do.
“The major issue is all of us getting involved in the distribution system, when we make it available to those for whom the items are intended. They must receive them. The protective gears need to get to the health workers right down there,” she said.
The Liberian leader indicated that government needs people that will volunteer, especially in the distribution of the protective gears for medical workers in the various counties.
“We need people to say ‘we are going to get on these trucks to carry out the distributions’. This is where our dear men in arms come in. If you need them to get some of these items to the counties, they willing and able to help you to do that,” she said.
We need to get this thing under control. We have got major development endeavors that we need to undertake.
She expressed appreciation to the health workers, the doctors, the nurses and the paramedics who she said continue to serve the people, many times at great risk to themselves.
“We want to appreciate the partnership that we enjoy with the United States and some of its institutions who have sent people to join us; and the United Nations system, too.”