To Stop Ebola Spread, U.S. Troops Should Join Liberian Contingent at Borders

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As the World Health Organization (WHO) and Medicine San Frontiers are now confidently saying, that Ebola is receding in Liberia and the number of infections is going down, recent reports say there is now a new outbreak in Grand Cape Mount County.

Remember, Cape Mount borders Sierra Leone, where the virus is continuing to spread.

Remember, too, that the outbreak of the virus in the Mano River basin did not start with Liberia.  It started in Guinea, from where one infected person crossed the border into Foya District, Lofa County; and that is how the virus began spreading here.  Liberia eventually became the worst hit, with more than 2,500 deaths.

We thank God that the virus is slowing down in Liberia.  People have been praying and their prayers are being answered.  Also, Liberians and residents have been obeying the rules—hand washing, avoiding contact with others, staying away from dead bodies, and limiting crowds.  The closure of schools and other educational institutions has helped considerably to contain the Ebola spread. The remarkable support and goodwill of our international partners and the strength and courage of our local health authorities and care givers have helped us avoid a far worse tragedy.

But Liberia must intensify her efforts to break the back of this deadly virus in our country.

It is here that we wish to make an URGENT proposal:  that the Liberian government reinforces its border patrols throughout the country and at the same time invite and appeal to the U.S. troops to join the Liberian contingent at all our borders.

We strongly believe this would help limit the possibility of Ebola crossing the border again into Liberia.

The primary mission of the 4000-strong U.S. contingent is to stop the spread of the virus in Liberia, and later, in the post-Ebola period, to help the country build an efficient and modern healthcare delivery system.

But first things first.  The first thing the Americans have done was to begin constructing 17 Ebola treatment units (ETUs).  So far three such projects have been completed—one in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, which was opened last weekend by U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai; the second was opened by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the new Defense Ministry Building in Congo Town, Monrovia.

The third project was opened near the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County—a treatment center for health workers.

Because of the slowing down of the virus, there are, thankfully, still very few patients in ETUs throughout the country.  But Ambassador Malac has already reminded us that we cannot and must not rest on our oars.  We must keep up the active fight against the virus.

We submit that one of the tangible ways to intensify the fight is to stop the virus from crossing our borders.  And that is where our American partners come in.  They have the logistical equipment, including transportation and communication to make a big difference in our border patrol to distance our people living in border communities from any contacts with neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea where the Ebola virus is still volatile.

We pray that the Liberian government will see wisdom in this proposal and seek the assistance of its American partners to make this happen.

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