How many people would one find who would, without being asked or mandated, would voluntarily give up their freedom and quarantine themselves?
The answer is obvious: not many, especially in Liberia at this time, when the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) is wrecking havoc on this tiny West African country, Liberia, one of the smallest in the entire sub-region. But to date, our Ebola death rate of probable, suspected or confirmed is 1830, the highest, above Guinea where the virus started, and Sierra Leone.
The thing is so bad that a lot of people are asking, Why Liberia. When a high official of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, while recently visiting London, was asked that question by the BBC, he replied, “Let’s leave it there. We will deal with that question later.”
The poor Liberian official could not answer the question. For how could he speak his mind on a subject that most people know about. Liberia has just recently discovered oil. And how does any big power develop free access to such a commodity in an enlightened population without first placing the country into complete disarray?
Even so, there are some highly conscientious Liberians who are setting the example of patriotism and professionalism in this crisis. We have two great women to show. The first is Dr. Bernice Dahn, the nation’s Chief Medical Officer. When this woman found out that her Special Assistant, Rev. Napoleon Brathwaite, was sick, she bravely went to see him on September 20 at his home in Monrovia’s Bardnersville Estate. When she suspected, but was not quite sure, that he might have been Ebola-infected, Dr. Dahn immediately distanced herself from Ministry and from her own family. She went home and quarantined herself from her loving husband and children and anyone else in the home, for the mandatory 21 days.
We consider this an exemplary display of self discipline and medical efficiency.
The other woman was Madam Yah Zolia, another Health and Social Welfare Deputy Minister, for Planning and Development. She went to her native Nimba County to help her people cope with the rapidly spreading EVD. When it was time for her to return to her ministerial duties in Monrovia, she asked the local authorities to give her a driver to take her to Monrovia. And who did they give her? A driver who had been driving ambulances with Ebola patients and who had himself been affected by the virus, but was in total denial of it. The two traveled over a 200 mile distance and at each check point the nurses found that this driver’s temperature was far too high.
The driver was still showing signs of severe illness when they finally arrived in Monrovia and she immediately gave him money to seek medical attention. He was confirmed to have been Ebola-affected, and died the following day!
It was at that point that Yah Zolia, a molecular biologist, immediately decided to quarantine herself for 21 days. By the grace of God, she was miraculously delivered from the virus, and has since returned to work.
The purpose of this Editorial is to commend these two outstanding and principled Liberian women for their exemplary demonstration of medical and professional discipline and integrity. They knew that they had both come into direct contact with Ebola-affected individuals, and without being asked, went ahead and voluntarily quarantined themselves from not only their offices but their families as well.
We submit that if this had been the behavior of other people all over Liberia, this deadly virus would not have spread so quickly and so fast in our country. But too many people have been too irresponsible, too deceitful and downright dishonest about their condition, and have therefore spread the virus among the own loved ones. For this reason, several families, households and even villages have been wiped out!
Thank Dr. Dahn and Madam Zolia, for your great example. We pray that others throughout Liberia will do as you have done to save lives from this deadly menace, the real source of which is still a complete mystery to us.
The BBC question stemmed from the reality that Liberia is the worst hit of all the Ebola-affected West African nations. Of all the over 2500 who have perished from this deadly Liberia exceeds 1,500.
Who knows the answer?