Even as reports from throughout Liberia, including some of the epi-centers of the deadly Ebola virus, say it is rapidly receding, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control are still making alarming and apocalyptic ‘predictions’ that Ebola will continue to spread by massive proportions well into January 2015.
The question that readily comes to mind is, What are these two global organizations up to? After taking a full six months to respond to this deadly emergency in three West African countries where people were dropping dead in their thousands, WHO is still insisting that Ebola deaths could exceed 20,000.
Pessimistically worse yet, the Atlanta-based United States government’s CDC says that between 500,000 and 1.4 million people may be infected by January. And now the British medical journal, The Lancet Infectious Diseases have just come out with another dreadful prediction, that “unless accelerated efforts to control the disease are made, the virus, by mid-December, will infect 171,000 and kill 90,000 people in Liberia alone.
Are these grim predictions real? Are they a ploy to attract more world response against the epidemic, or are they designed for something else?
When last week President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited Foya in Lofa County, where Ebola first broke out in Liberia from across the border in Guinea, there had been in the past three weeks NO new cases reported in Lofa. In addition, the Ebola Treatment Center in Foya was practically empty. In Ganta, Nimba County, which lost over a hundred people, reports are saying that there are no new cases there either, and that the death toll has diminished.
Even in Monrovia, reports coming in to this newspaper say the cases are going down, and that most ETUs have limited occupancy. Our Senior Reporter Omari Jackson visited several communities around Monrovia, many of them badly affected slums, and reported that the people were in a thanksgiving mood because the number of infections and deaths were way down.
Reporter Jackson said people were very upset that WHO and others were saying the reason the numbers in ETUs were down was that ‘infected’ people were staying away for fear of Ebola stigma and cremation. He said he found no one in the several communities visited who held that view. Many were upset with the WHO and CDC for giving these alarming predictions. The people interviewed by Reporter Jackson said that just as they were beginning to feel a welcome sense of relief, given the visible decline in the viral infections and deaths, these WHO and CDC predictions were causing them great discomfort and anxiety.
Reporter Jackson discovered another highly positive development: people are religiously following all measures of prevention, including washing their hands, not touching one another or dead bodies and insisting that anyone suspected of any kind of infection is immediately sent away from the neighborhood and led to a center where that person can be tested. In other words, the people are no longer hiding their sick, but doing what they know they must do to fight the virus. So we expect corresponding encouragement from all the partners, including the international bodies.
With the virus receding, it will be interesting to see what will happen in the 17 ETUs nearing completion by the American military contingent and by the Chinese and other partners. Reporter Jackson visited the latest one at the new Defense Ministry premises and found that there were so far no patients there.
It is an historical fact that Liberia has never before faced a health crisis like this one. The WHO and CDC predictions, even as our people are responding robustly to the established preventive measures, have presented us with another very serious challenge: just as President Ellen Johnson said a week ago, we must REJECT these predictions by fighting with all our might to resist this virus and expel it from our
country and the Mano River basin.