For over two weeks now this newspaper has been calling on the Liberian government (GOL) to undertake the proper handling of the Ebola dead. We have repeatedly pleaded with GOL that it should empower the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH) to take charge of bodies and bury them properly. We have insisted that the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) is NOT the proper agency to undertake this medical and scientific task about which they know nothing. Morris Dukuly, MIA Minister, is a journalist-turned politician, NOT a medical person and so he knows nothing about burying people who have died from a highly infectious and contagious disease such as Ebola. Everywhere in the world the burial of such bodies is placed in the care of the Health and Medical Authorities—why? because there is a whole branch of medicine that deals specifically with dead bodies; it is called “forensic pathology.” Liberian Medical experts have confirmed to the Daily Observer that this branch of medicine—forensic pathology— determines the cause of death and how a dead body should be disposed of.
Unfortunately, despite our repeated pleas that GOL hand over this highly scientific task to the proper authority, the Ministry of Health, the GOL has been in total denial and has refused to listen. To prove that Internal Affairs knows nothing about this matter, we last week quoted an MIA official who said, “The burial of Ebola bodies is irrelevant.”
Now here we are weeks later faced with this highly dangerous and alarming situation in Johnsonville: many bodies dumped on the bank of a river from which people get their drinking, bathing and cooking water. And when last weekend the people saw their dogs eating the bodies, the people began fleeing the area, not knowing what next to expect, quite possibly a renewed Ebola outbreak! For dogs always mix with people and even bark and sniff at them. That is a sure way of spreading this deadly virus.
The failure to dispose properly the Ebola bodies, even the MOH will agree, is a sure way of spreading the virus. For it is the MOH itself that has warned people to stay away from an Ebola body, because by mere touching it one could immediately contract the disease.
We again call on the GOL immediately to take control of this dangerous situation in Johnsonville, by reclaiming all of the bodies improperly buried there and transporting them to a secure place for burial or cremation.
That’s our number one suggestion.
Number two, GOL should immediately send in a team from the MOH to spray the entire township of Johnsonville, beginning especially with the surrounding areas where the bodies were dumped. All the surrounding wetlands, all the rivers and creeks in Johnsonville should be sprayed, and the dry ground, too.
Number three, the MOH, with the assistance of the Environmental Protection Agency, should engage the Johnsonville people in finding all the dogs in town, kill and burn them, depending on what these two Agencies deem best, in an urgent and determined bid to stop them from spreading Ebola even further.