Ending Ebola in Liberia: A Collective Approach Needed


The deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) has once again shown its ugly face on our African continent, this time in the West Africa region—specifically the Mano River Union basin, including Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

These countries are nursing fragile democracies in which most of their public institutions, including health sectors, are in ruins, needing all the attention from their respective national leaderships. Though it might seem a very hard thing to do to focus a bulk of the national attention on a single sector, however, it is inarguable that when this is done collectively for certain sectors of the state, dividends obtained from such approach, remain a lasting positive effect for generations unborn.

The Ebola disease, though being mainly falling in the health sector,  yet cutting across every sector of the economy, is caused by a virus which first surfaced in 1976, in East Africa. It has a very high fatality rate of 25 to 90 percent. This means that nine out of 10 of those contracting it die.

It is caused by one of five different Ebola viruses. Four of the strains can cause severe illness in humans and animals. The fifth, Reston virus, has caused illness in some animals, but not in humans.

The first human outbreaks occurred in 1976, one in northern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Central Africa: and the other, in South Sudan (then a part of Sudan Republic). The virus is named after the Ebola River, where it was first recognized in 1976, according to the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.

While the exact reservoir of Ebola viruses is still unknown, researchers believe the most likely natural hosts are fruit bats.

Symptoms of Ebola typically include weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Additional experiences include rash, red eyes, chest pain, throat soreness, difficulty breathing or swallowing and bleeding (including internal).

Symptoms may appear eight to 10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days.

The deadly human Ebola virus outbreaks have been confirmed in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo (ROC), Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

According to the World Health Organization, "there is no specific treatment or vaccine." Patients are given supportive care, which includes providing fluids and electrolytes and food.

According to the Cable News Network (CNN), there have been more than 3,000 reported cases and more than 1,600 deaths since the discovery of Ebola, nearly 39 years ago.

Since March of 2014 to present, the outbreak in Guinea, which crossed over to Liberia and Sierra Leone, there have been reports of over 350 confirmed or suspected cases of EVD, resulting in over 270 deaths in Guinea, Liberia 25 confirmed cases, while in Sierra Leone, 34 fatal cases among the confirmed.

With these statistics(stats), the virus outbreak needs to be tackled by everyone including those in decision-making and ordinary citizens in the sub-region, who most times bear the brunt of the situations when they arise.

Authorities at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoSHW) have always said that Liberia has been successful in eradicating other diseases, including small pox, polio and yaws.

This has not come about just by a single effort. It was met head on by all the major stakeholders, including the public itself.  

Ebola, too, can join the rank and file of those diseases that are now things of the past for Liberia. However, this is only going to happen when everyone realizes that it is deadly and their efforts are needed to eradicate or prevent it from spreading any further on our soil and in the sub-region. Let all of us get involve with the preventive tips provided by the Health Ministry.




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