A Wreath for Nathan, Jr.

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Yet another young and promising Liberian has been struck down by Ebola. The demise of 10 year old Nathan Gbotee, Jr. only two days after he was diagnosed with Ebola should NOT be taken lightly.

Liberia, Liberians and all who dwell within our borders should redouble their efforts to fight this deadly virus and drive it far away from our shores. This is the first layer of the wreath for Nathan, Jr.

This fight includes strict and sustained observance of all the protocols—hand washing with chlorine and soap before entering a home, including our own, an office, a school or any other place. It also includes temperature checking, especially in crowded places such as banks or heavily trafficked offices.

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) need to suggest measures to keep crowded market places safe. It is easy when one enters a market building such as Rally Town, where we hope the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA) will ensure the availability of enough chlorinated buckets for hand washing. These should be constantly monitored to ensure that people obey the rules before entering the market. The LMA should appoint inspection officers at each marketplace to ensure that everyone washes his/her hands before entering.

Where the CMO and MOH come in is especially with regards to open marketplaces like Douala, the Paynesville Red Light, the sidewalk markets around Monrovia and other cities, and all the markets along our highways throughout the country on “market days.”

Dr. Kateh, who hails from Bong County, knows what we are talking about. Every major town in the interior has market days, and they are usually crowded with people not only from the respective towns, but by others who come from elsewhere to buy and sell. How do we monitor such people and how does the Ministry, in collaboration with each County Health Team, enforce the protocols to control Ebola? This is the second layer of wreath for Nathan, Jr.

The third layer of wreath for Nathan, Jr. is the accountability and transparency, on the part of the Ministry of Health and all those involved in the handling of the financial and other resources that have been allocated or come in from foreign sources for the anti-Ebola fight.

There is widespread speculation, true or untrue, that some people in government and elsewhere have gotten rich off some of the money, medical and other resources that were donated to fight Ebola.

If we are truly sorry for young Nathan, Jr. and all other victims of the deadly virus, we should manifest that sympathy and concern in our upright, efficient and prudent handling of these resources and ensure that they go nowhere else except toward helping the suffering people for whom these resources are intended.

One final layer of the wreath for Nathan, Jr. has both national and international undertones: the search for the source of Ebola—where did it come from, how did it come to affect Liberia so gravely?—and how can we permanently eradicate it from our midst? If we are able to answer these questions, this will be the most telling (powerful, revealing) wreath, not only for Nathan, Jr., but for all the others who have perished under this deadly bondage (yoke) that so perilously afflicted our country, its economy and everything else.

America’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been helping us to fight Ebola and initiated scientific research to find a vaccine to combat the virus. How far have they gone in their work? Will a vaccine ever be found, as in the case of polio, yellow fever and other crippling diseases?

Liberia and the other affected nations—Guinea and Sierra Leone—must engage the CDC and our own scientists and help them to find the vaccine that will totally free us from Ebola.

This would be a wreath not just for Nathan, Jr. and all the others who have died, but for Ebola itself.

As the English poet, John Donne, wrote in his immortal poem, Death Be Not Proud: “Though [Death] is mighty and dreadful, thou art not so, for [in the end,] Death, too, shall die.”

That is our hope in the resurrection when, as Jesus proved, death, too, died.

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