A Healthy, Hopeful Sign: Strict ‘Preventive’ Enforcement Meets Guinea Border Reopening

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Our Nimba Correspondent Ishmael Menkor recently reported that the Republic of Guinea government had finally reopened its border with Liberia, amid strict enforcement of all preventive measures.

These preventive measures, required of all travelers entering each border point, are crucial to the crusade to deal a final death knell to the deadly Ebola virus.  It is the strict observance of these measures by Liberians throughout the country that has done the trick to kick out the virus.  Today, most of the 15 counties have long passed the 42 day zero new case required by WHO to be declared Ebola-free.  Only Montserrado County has a little more than 20 days to reach that mark when the whole country will be declared totally free of the virus.  The target date is May 9.

To meet that target, Liberians have to continue to strictly enforce the rules and observe all the measures.  Many of us have become so confident that people have even begun to shake hands and hug one another again.  We say it is far too early for that!  Let us wait for May 9 when the World Health Organization makes its celebrated announcement that Liberia is Ebola-free.

And the same strict observance must be enforced at the borders—all of them, not just the borders with Guinea.  We trust that the Ministry of Health has assigned enough buckets, chemicals and thermometers at each border point, along with trained personnel to check each person crossing over into Liberia.  We think this is crucial and must be enforced until we are declared Ebola-free. 

Since the borders are so porous, we suggest that MOH people and supplies should be posted at each border town on the Liberian side, and the townsfolk engaged and trained to join the health teams doing the checking.

There are the borders with Guinea, La Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.  If these measures can be enforced in all of the border towns, there will be a good chance of success.

Meanwhile, the government now has many ambulances, including the latest donation of 20 ambulances by the People’s Republic of China.  Most of them are currently idle, because there are in most places, including now Montserrado, no more cases—absolutely none.  MOH should deploy at least one ambulance to each county, and to those larger counties, two or more, so that in case there is a suspected case, it should be immediately transferred to the nearest ETU.

Yes, we should not rush to close these ETUs.  A minimal staff should be maintained at each of them—just in case. 

And while we join the international community, including the latest, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the new WHO Africa Regional Director General, who during her visit here this week patted Liberia on the back for its near victorious fight against Ebola, we cannot afford to rest on or oars.  We must press on to the finish—May 9, 2015—and beyond, until good health is completely restored to Liberia.

Let us also, from hence forth, practice the self discipline we have known and observed all these past months in our interactions with one another, in our visitations to homes, offices, business places and worship and entertainment centers.  Let us continue to wash our hands, avoid unnecessary close contact and crowded places; and for those who can afford it, constantly use hand sanitizers, which many women carry in their handbags and men on their belt straps.

These constructive and useful health habits that have become part of our daily routine should never leave us.  But let us also practice personal, home, neighborhood and community hygiene, with the supreme objective of driving disease of any kind far, far away. 

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