Adopting the All Hands On Deck Concept in the Fight Against the Ebola Virus Disease; A Focus on Health Workers

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Dr. Louise Mapleh Kpoto_web.jpg
Dr. Louise Mapleh Kpoto

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a “National Tsunami” in Liberia and the war against it cannot be won unless considerable efforts are made to bring on board the entire medical community which as of now has not been done in a way to produce a positive impact on the fight against the disease. In fact the unplanned way health workers are being deployed has resulted to the alarming casualties among them and the consequent fear and abandonment of major health institutions leading to a massive negative feedback on the entire national health system.

The first missed opportunity by the government was their oversight in not calling a meeting of all senior medical professionals (specialists in Public Health, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and health administrators) from the entire spectrum of the medical community especially the senior Liberian doctors who have vast experiences, in public health and administration that we as a country could tap into to help plan a strategy and schedule of implementation for this fight.

Let’s invest in our health workers; we will never go wrong. They are the key and front liners in this fight. Give the motivation/incentives, logistics, transportation and protective materials and above all HOPE for those who are alive as they see insurance for the widows, widowers, and orphans of those who have compassionately laid down their lives in the execution of their profession. Meanwhile we the health workers would like to assure the Liberian people that we are all willing to continue the battle with valor like soldiers to bravely bring victory to our nation against EBOLA.

We need our foreign partners, though, who will come with logistics, expertise and to help train. But they need to coordinately partner with our health workers not only to facilitate their works but when they leave there will be people on the ground capable to continue the good work.

Therefore I want to advance the following advices to the government of Liberia, which in summary is to unconditionally fully engage, support and protect the health workers:

  1. Call together all senior Liberian doctors and have a tête-à-tête discussion with them, gauging their opinions and advices on how the government can deal with the Ebola outbreak in the country.
  2. Co-opt into the leadership of the Ebola task force at all levels some of the Senior Liberian Doctors.
  3. Appoint some of the senior doctors as advisors to the inter- ministerial meetings held weekly at the MoH&SW
  4. Have senior doctors play leading role at the call centers
  5. Members of the local chapters of both the West African Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians, and the Medical College should be involved in all battalions of the fight against Ebola.
  6. Mobilize interns, medical students, nurses, midwives, and also students of environmental health, physician assistants, nursing, pharmacy, laboratory and public health from all schools and colleges including those at Cuttington, to have crash training courses as contact tracers, social workers, public awareness evangelists like Jehovah witnesses going from house to house assigned in the field in the villages to be in all the counties like we did during the census or political campaigns.
  7. In addition do not just close the schools and leave the youths idle but let it be mandatory during this emergency period that all schools, including colleges and universities, make it as a prerequisite for their registration when schools reopen, that every student 16years and above show proof of having had Ebola prevention training and also participated in one of the activities of Ebola prevention and /or management programs.

The fight against the Ebola disease outbreak in our country is a war against an invisible invading enemy. I therefore appeal to all medical professionals for us to adopt the “all hands on deck concept” and fight as the “special forces” of this war to attack the enemy in the field and prevent it from coming to our homes. Without our full and united participation our foreign partners alone will not defeat this enemy and our people and many of us will continue perish.

May the Almighty God protect us and save our people and nation.

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