Ebola, Now the Caterpillar Challenge

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The nation awoke last weekend to the news of a new epidemic on the horizon: the outbreak of an avalanche of caterpillars, first in Bong County, then later in Lofa and Gbarpolu counties.

This outbreak has affected not only the people, but their crops as well.  It poses a serious problem because the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has already warned that we are facing a serious problem of food insecurity, even in the nation’s two chief breadbaskets, Lofa and Bong counties.

Now we face an even more serious problem: the deadly  resurgence of Ebola on the national landscape and 16 deaths in a matter of days.
And like the deadly HIV virus AIDS, Ebola has no cure. All we are told is to take the preventive measure of making  sure to wash our hands each time one enters the home or office, or before making contact with anyone or eating.

We call on the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and the city leaderships around the country to pass on this message as a matter of URGENCY.  In addition, for what it is worth, we again appeal to the MOHSW to take the leadership in the fight against poor sanitation: finding a permanent solution to the mountains of garbage which despoil our cities, especially the capital, Monrovia, and put our people, especially our children, at risk.  The Ministry’s leadership seems to have forgotten that at one time the name of that agency was “Department of Public  Health and Sanitation.”  Earlier in the administration, one of its leaders told us he was not appointed “to clean anyone’s backyard.”

Did he forget the ancient dictum (saying, truism) that prevention is better than cure?
Well, look at the malaria statistics and the deadly toll it and other totally preventable diseases are inflicting on our people, especially the children under five!  The fact is that  mosquitoes, flies, worms, rats, roaches and other deadly,  disease-carrying creatures FESTER IN FILTH, from which they are energized to inflict their worst on our people. Then when the consequences occur, unleashing the deadly epidemics, we go running to “the donors” for help.  How infantile (childish, babyish)!

The Observer, daily in our editorials, offers suggestions as to how we can run our country better.  We recall that in the 1980s G. Henry Andrews, Liberia’s pioneering and preeminent broadcaster,  once visited the country from Abidjan, where he worked at the time with the African Development Bank.  During his  visit, he came see us at our Broad Street, Crown Hill office.  And this is what he told us: “If Sergeant Doe only read your editorials, he would run a better government.”

But it seems to be the proclivity (tendency) of people in power to pay little or no attention to good advice.  This is one of the reasons we have vigorously resisted those who have called for regime change: as usual, they have a barrage of criticisms against the current regime.

But wait until THEY get there.  It will NOT only be business as usual.  It will be worse.  There are many who thrive, get rich in chaos.

But in spite of being constantly ignored, we continue to press on, urging our people daily to do the right thing.  When Ebola first broke out, we issued an urgent appeal that the MOHSW initiate a program to start working on an anti-Ebola vaccine.

With the resurgence of the disease, which is spreading in our sub-region with 49 deaths in Sierra Leone and 264 in Guinea, and Heaven knows where else it will strike, we make that appeal again.
Working with Liberian scientists and the Institute of Biomedical Research, let us take the initiative to find a vaccine against Ebola.

Don’t wait for the rich nations to do it.  Let us take the initiative and start.  Others, seeing our seriousness and self reliance, will join us in the search for something to combat this lethal, menacing monster.

This is our humble plea.

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