The word EBOLA has been around for some time now, but Liberians, especially, non health practitioners, did not know the proper effect of the virus until recently when we learned that the virus has crossed over to Liberia from the North by a petty trader.
When this information was gathered, many Liberians expressed their fear of the virus, while a significant portion of the society, especially critics of this government, termed the information as fabrication by health authority to dish out money from government’s coffers to enrich themselves.
An emergency budget was planned and funds and logistics were made available to combat of the virus. In a few days the momentum of the virus dropped, resulting in the commencement of normal activities in the country.
Quite recently, news of the virus resurfaced, thereby attacking not only ordinary citizens, but major health and medical practitioners who are the ones that are supposed to help prevent the virus from spreading in the society. Dr. Sam Brisbane of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center died of the virus last week, while two Americans medical personnel from Samaritan Purse and the Sudan Interior Mission are among those prominent individuals that have fallen prey to the virus.
Though there has been no major news of infants attacked, yet something needs to be done to avoid our children from been harmed from this mercilessly spreading virus that is highly contagious.
Few weeks from now our schools will be opening and our children, mainly in the primary division, without knowledge of the danger of this disease, will be returning to school to interact with their fellow colleagues for hours before returning home. Some of these schools have poor hygiene premises, which are harmful to the children’s health. Among such inadequate conditions are congested classrooms, one or two bathrooms for significant number of students, one or two drinking buckets with few cups that the children share to fetch water and drink. These poor facilities help to buttress the spread of the disease and also serve as major factors that could lead to an uncontrollable outbreak. With all these existing facts, the Government of Liberia, the health authorities, World Health Organization, Ministry of Education and the school authorities need to formulate a common plan that will help stop the spread of this deadly disease before the opening of schools.
Though, I am not a policy maker, I would like to propose few steps that would help in addition to what government may be doing to curb the spread of the disease.
TASK FORCE FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA
It was announced that a task force headed by the President of the country, Madam Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, has been established to combat the spread of the disease. This is something every well meaning Liberians welcomes. I would like to suggest that this task force divide the country into zones and select an individual to head each of the zones for the fight against this disease. This is because the President cannot be everywhere at the same time. Tackling the disease one place at the time may not help the situation, but doing it simultaneously will be an effective approach.
For the schools, I would kindly appeal for the Chief Executive to permit me as an ordinary citizen to recommend Madam Mary Broh to reach out to our schools, check their premises and hygiene conditions to report back to her. Madam Broh should be given the task to recommend the closure of schools whose surroundings are not conducive for the safety of our kids.
Information dissemination or public awareness
If I may borrow a common saying from our late comedian, Peter Ballah, commonly called Flomo that says “What you don’t know is older than you” could be one of the major reasons while Ebola is spreading in our society. The spreading of information regarding the danger and prevention of Ebola should not only be left with the Executive branch of Government, WHO and health authority, but rather every sector of the society, including the private sector, NGOs, civil society, religious groups, most especially, those in parliament. They should move into their various constituencies and educate the people in their local dialects about the danger and prevention of this deadly disease. They should sensitize the people in their various districts as though they are campaigning for political power.
ADJUSTING THE 2014/2015 SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR
As part of the process to prevent the spread of Ebola, the Government through the Ministry of Education needs to adjust the 2014/2015 school year calendar for grade schools. The reason for this is to help the schools and the government to put in proper mechanism to save the lives of our innocent kids. The process can involve the teaching of staff of these schools, checking the various campuses to ascertain how hygienic their premises are. Those with poor sanitary conditions should be closed until improvement is done.
THE PROVISION OF MEDICATIONS AND PERSONNEL AT SCHOOLS
Government may complain about the lack of staff to post nurses at schools across the country to immediately arrest cases of suspected Ebola. It will be necessary that Government and its partners put into place a mechanism that will result into the provision of logistics posting of nurse (s) on these campuses to monitor our kids. The Government also needs to have medications that can help in curbing the spread of the disease on these campuses.
If these measures are not considered, this could result to poor attendance in our schools this year or wide spread of the virus that my lead to a massive lost of lives.
About the author
Alexander B. Gbartea, was born in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County March 15, 1978 unto the union of Johnson T. Gbartea and Dougbormar Tarr. He obtained his elementary education from the Bethlehem Baptist Elementary School. Upon graduation, he enrolled at the Barnes Foundation School where he underwent his junior high education. Upon graduation with a successful passed in 9th Grade WAEC, he matriculated to the Haywood Mission Institute where he obtained a high school diploma on April 3, 1995. He has a vast wealth of experience in computer studies from the West Africa Institute of Computer Technology, Smartlink Institute and the Sight & Sound Secretarial Institute, all of Accra, Ghana. Upon his returned to Liberia, he enrolled at the University of Liberia and graduated on April 6, 2006/2007 class with a BBA Degree in Accounting major and Economics minor. He is presently a student at the IBB studying International Relations and is the Financial Comptroller at Nexium Petroleum Limited.