Liberia—Ebola Free at Last!

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Liberians fasted, prayed, worked very hard, followed the rules—constant hand washing, temperature taking, no touching or overcrowding, among others.   

And now, this exercise of self discipline by ordinary Liberians, in a determined endeavor to defeat this deadly virus, has paid off exceedingly.  The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday, May 9, declared Liberia an Ebola-free country!

As we did in an Editorial several weeks ago, we give praise and thanks first to Almighty God for answering our prayers.  We thank all our people—Christian bishops, pastors, evangelists and parishioners in all churches; imams and Muslim worshippers in all mosques; and those Liberians and foreign residents who prayed in their hearts and homes.

We also thank our President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who gallantly and successfully led the fight against this deadly, unprecedented attack against us, disrupting not only our economy but our very way of life.   The President resolutely and courageously rejected doomsday predictions by powerful global forces, including WHO, that 8,000 Liberians per week would die and that hundreds of thousands of our people would be dead by December 31, 2014.  President Sirleaf, in a spirit of resolute faith, declared simply, “That will never happen here!”

She then marshaled all the forces available to her—the healthcare delivery personnel—Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale and his staff, Tolbert Nyenswah, Dorbor Jallah and their co-workers of the Incident Management System (IMS), all the doctors, nurses and paramedics and  personnel in all the hospitals  and Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs).   

The entire government was mobilized, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Central Bank of Liberia that came forward with the first US$5 million to start the fight, and the General Services Agency which activated the first Ebola response teams.

Then the President appealed for help to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, United States President Barrack Obama and President Jiang Zemin of China.  

She likewise reached out to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and other world leaders and international organizations, including WHO, European Union, African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank and many others.  She told them that Liberia was in a desperate situation, with our people dropping dead everywhere from an insidious (dangerous, menacing) assault of an unknown enemy called Ebola.

So serious and persuasive was President Sirleaf’s case that the world responded with decisive and overwhelming action.  President Obama immediately deployed some 4000 US troops on Liberian soil to join the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) in building ETUs throughout the country.  China built a first class one at the S.K.D. Sports complex and the government itself established several in Monrovia, Ganta,  Foya, Bomi Hills, etc., manned by Liberian medical personnel, Medecin Sans Frontiers (MSF), world evangelist Dr. Billy Graham’s son Franklin’s Samaritan Purse, and several other humanitarian organizations.

Soon, very soon, thanks to this overpowering national and international response, the virus began to recede throughout the country.  By March, 14 counties reported not a single case.

A sudden flare up of the virus in Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado Counties attempted to reverse the gains—but not for long.  Liberians and foreign residents remained stoically passionate about observing hand washing and all the rules.    

After going 20 days without a single case anywhere, there appeared a lonely one in Caldwell, Montserrado County.   But Liberians remained undeterred and resolute (stubborn, unbending, tenacious) to the finish which, thank God, arrived last Saturday, May 9, 2015, when we accomplished the 42 days without a single case. WHO honored this success with its declaration: “LIBERIA IS EBOLA FREE!

We thank President Sirleaf, the government, ALL medical and health workers, the local and international partners and all Liberians who helped make this possible.

Our immense appreciation goes to Cameroonian Dr. Patrick Nshamdze, Ugandan Dr. Sam Muhumuza, Liberian Doctors Samuel Brisbane, Abraham Borbor, Thomas Scotland and John Dada, and all the nurses and paramedics that paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight.

Let us all continue observing ALL the measures until our two neighboring countries, Guinea and Sierra Leone are also declared Ebola-free.

Let us all pray for and work with our Guinean and Sierra Leonean brothers and sisters until they too, reach this coveted milestone.

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