Outsourcing the Ebola Fight Won’t Hurt

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Much has been said about outsourcing the Ebola fight to one or more international medical organizations with expertise in handling this pandemic.

Recently our Senate Correspondent J. Burgess Carter reported that most Senators had called on the National Ebola Task Force,  headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and co-Chaired by the Ministers of Internal Affairs and Health, respectively, to outsource the Ebola combat program.  They suggested Médicins San Frontiers (MSF) and other international health-related organizations, which have past experiences in handling such outbreaks.

The Senators argued that the Liberian Government has been  overwhelmed and no longer has the capacity to contain the disease.

Despite their initial approval of US$5 million and later US$15 million, there were still cries for more funding, and that the situation in the counties was worsening daily.

They further argued that since the declaration of the State of Emergency, there are no indications that government was winning the anti-Ebola war. “We need to change our strategy because we have too many bureaucracies.

The Liberian National Red Cross Society (LNRCS), citing poor coordination between government functionaries, has backed the Senators’ call for outsourcing the fight.

But speaking September 3, at  the ELWA Hospital compound,  where she welcomed some survivors being discharged,  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rejected the call for outsourcing the Ebola fight.  

The fact that Liberian doctors, nurses and other health workers are taking effective care of and healing their people “was evidence that they need more support to continue to do their good work.”

However, weighing both arguments, we think it’s high time that GOL officially outsources the Ebola fight, which is clearly already unofficially outsourced to these international organizations, such as MSF, Doctors without Borders and WHO.

Our reason for this is based on many factors, but we will treat just three of them.

GOL, having allotted at least US$20 million toward the anti-Ebola campaign, has been only able to manage an isolation center with less than 40 beds; which has consequently caused the spreading of the disease in many parts of the country. Credible sources told us two days ago that there were 67 patients against 35 beds at the GOL-run facility at ELWA 2.

Because of the woeful lack of beds to take in all of the sick and suspected patients, Ebola victims have been turned away to wait until beds are available, either by death or the discharging of few survivors.  The disease is spreading so fast that all the isolation facilities are now filled and are refusing to admit new patients.

Moreover, government has not been able to erect a center in other affected counties, including Nimba, where the disease is raging.

The $5 million made available by GOL has been exhausted; yet the virus is spreading and more and more people are dying.

There are two other isolation facilities in Monrovia, one at the ELWA Hospital compound; and the other within the cholera unit of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Sinkor, that is being run by hired Ugandan medical practitioners through WHO. The GOL has announced the construction of new facilities not with public funding, but monies from donors, and those facilities are going to be managed by these international medical partners, too.

International financial institutions, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, have all announced funding the campaign against the virus, but said monies won’t be handed to the Government, but instead, to WHO and others. The WB and AfDB have not said why they don’t intend to handover this other funding over to GOL, as in the past with other monies they have provided.

Of very grave concern also is the fate of children of parents who have contracted the virus or who have died. As of yet, there aren’t any plans from the GOL concerning the welfare of these children. This one thing seems to have been forgotten, provoking a candid and questioning response from the National Children and Youth Advisory Board (NCYAB).

We think by outsourcing, GOL can now focus its attention on trying to reopen all of the now closed health centers and hospitals, whose closure has led to many unnecessary non-Ebola deaths.   Health personnel in these institutions have been demanding personnel protective equipment and other incentives before returning to work.

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