The Ebola epidemic is threatening to wreck havoc on the peoples of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but the extraordinary measures that have been taken by the governments of these nations along with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), and international public health experts and workers, we are sure to stop the spread of the virus. We will no doubt succeed, based on the determination of our people and their growing receptiveness to the measures proposed by the government in eradicating this morbid disease in Liberia and in the other affected countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The disease, we are told, is at present without cure and there is no vaccine to immunize people against it. We therefore are well advised to heed the preventive measures that are being undertaken to combat it.
The government of Liberia has ordered the closing of all schools until further notice. It has allocated funds to the Ministry of Health for deploying health workers to spray the environment with disinfectants, checking on people from house to house to observe whether there are some with the symptom of the disease, and where there is, so to bring them to quarantine facilities for treatment. The Ministry of Health is also conducting public education and awareness on the dangers of the virus as well as the necessary measures to avoid contracting and spreading it.
The government has also announced measures to isolate the locations where the incident of infection appears to be high.
Other measures include the cremation of corpses of those who are suspected to have been infected with the disease. In addition, the government has decided to reduce the staff of the various ministries for a month to the level of essential staff sending the others home on a paid follow for the period. The government has also instructed the Ministry of Commerce to admit imports of receptacles (buckets) used for washing hands in chlorinize water as sterilization. Beyond this, worshipping centers (Churches and Mosques), shopping centers, businesses and entertainment places are required to provide facilities for the washing of hands in antiseptic solution as well as to announce and post notices of the danger of the Ebola epidemic. Some of these entertainment centers have begun to play music that carry on awareness message of the disease.
The President of the Republic attended a meeting in Conakry, Guinea of the leaders of the other countries in the Mano River Region for the purpose of addressing this urgent problem. At this meeting it was agreed to quarantine the meeting points of these three nations-Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea- as a way of isolating the areas to prevent the spread of the disease–a very bold move for that matter. Besides, President Johson-Sirleaf has had to cancel a trip to the United States where she would have attended a US – Africa Summit, so as to devote her full attention to the contagion.
The Liberian public is increasingly coming to grips with the seriousness of this deadly disease. People are observed to be following the instructions of the Ministry of Health involving the washing of hands to sterilize them, avoiding personal contact in shaking hands which is customary here as well as embracing one another when the meet. They are also advised to avoid large gatherings wherein they would tend to be more exposed to infection with the disease.
People are clearly demonstrating their appreciation for the concern shown by the government, particularly by the office of the President and the Ministry of Health. I would like to join in expressing my gratitude for the concern shown and for the measures advised.
We also wish to register our sincere thanks and appreciation to the international community particularly to the WHO, for the hefty donation of funds to pay for the campaign of arresting the spread of this disease as well as for ultimately eradicating it.
The confident expressed by the Director of the WHO in our ability to overcome this communicable disease inspires us to action to stop it.
Lastly, it is necessary to draw attention to the need to stress public hygiene and environmental protection in our public awareness program. There is equally a need to establish an agency for nutrition, environment and public health. We need to regulate food standards, market standards and to carryout regular inspections of market stalls. In addition, some public education on the hazards of indiscriminately eating animals in the wild. Some of these animals may carry viruses that may present serious health challenges.
We need to review our eating habit and do more for public sanitation. It is my view that the government and some civic organizations have to take a lead in these matters. There is a need for some regulation of these matters in the Public interest.