Poor Sanitation Heightens Ebola Spread

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Our Roving Reporter, Sanitation and Fisheries Correspondent Edwin Fayia has been writing a series of reports on Liberia’s southeastern region, some good news and some bad.  The good news is that that region is Ebola-free, for now. 

The bad news is that the southeast is plagued not only with very bad roads, but more seriously, with atrocious (appalling, awful) sanitation, especially in Harper, capital of Maryland County.

We think it is a great blessing that Ebola has not yet touched that sub-region, and  we pray that it remain that way.  But we there is a lot we can do to ensure that it remain free from the virus: we need to help Maryland, especially

Harper, clean up the sanitation mess there, especially along the city’s beaches.  According to Correspondent Fayia, these beaches, which are supposed to be attracting throngs of tourists for enjoyment, are the scenes of something totally different, defecation.  It is sadly  to the beaches that people go to ease themselves.

If, therefore, we want the southeast to remain Ebola-free, then the government, the county and city administrations and all the people should, as a matter of urgency, seriously attack the sanitation menace in the southeast, especially Harper, Cape Palmas, and make the whole clean.  The people should start using their beaches for recreation and enjoyment, not as toilets.

The same was true a year or two ago before Maritime Commissioner Binya Kesselly organized several crews of sanitation workers, at Maritime’s expense, to clean up Monrovia’s beaches, from South Beach to West Point, to Claratown, to Logan Town, to New Kru Town.  This has brought great relief to the people in these communities.

But what is the link between poor sanitation and Ebola?  The Chief Medical Officer of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Dr. Billy Johnson, told the Daily Observer on Sunday that poor sanitation causes the Ebola virus to spread faster. 

“That,” he said, “is why we find the virus spreading so much faster in poor socioeconomic communities that anywhere else.”

Dr. Johnson recalled that when Ebola first attacked Zaire (Congo) few years ago, one town of 400,000 people with no running water, no electricity and very poor sanitation was devastated by the virus, leading to so many deaths.  That brought worldwide attention to the Ebola virus.  Dr. Johnson appealed to city managements throughout the country and the government as a whole to give priority attention to good sanitation, because it is in poor sanitary environments that the Ebola virus thrives, and spreads quickly.  It is conveyed through sweat and other body fluids, urine and feces.  So when we have people urinating and defecating all over the place, we are then asking for more Ebola trouble, not less.

The JFK Chief Medical Officer spoke of a documentary currently being shown on ELBC Television called NOVA EBOLA, which tells the story of the poor village in Zaire that was consumed by   Ebola.  He advised that the station replay the video many times and share it with other television stations because it will help people understand the relationship between Ebola and poor sanitation.

The point we are trying to stress in this editorial is that all of us should get involved in maintaining proper sanitation in all our neighborhoods.  Those who live in neighborhoods where garbage is indiscriminately thrown about should become good and caring neighbors and put a stop to it.  We should alert the appropriate authorities and ensure that they DO something to improve the situation.  Today, no one in any neighborhood should sit supinely and permit people to throw garbage indiscriminately about.

Besides, we appeal to all city governments and to the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare and Public Works to join in the fight for proper sanitation throughout all capital and other cities and all communities around the country.  This is definitely one of the essential ways to fight Ebola.

Dr. Johnson reminds us that the Ebola virus is “very fragile.”  It fears heat, cleanliness, good and proper sanitation.  The Virus cannot thrive in decent, clean and safe environments.  Cleanliness is key to prevention.

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