For weeks now across Liberia either nothing or very little has been heard about the deadly Ebola virus. Apparently, the awareness and sensitization characterizing the battle against the threat of the Ebola virus in Liberia have all disappeared from the airwaves, communities, schools, as well as offices, among others as if we, as nation, have won Ebola. Despite reports of the threat of the virus, which kills between 25% and 90% of its victims, in Sierra Leone, Liberian health Ministry authorities may still be complacent about the threat to Liberia.
Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone share common border just as neighboring Guinea, where the outbreak was first reported in West Africa in recent times. More than 100 deaths were reported as casualties of the outbreak. Early last week, the incurable and highly contagious disease was reported in neighboring Sierra Leone with about 50 suspected cases and five people have died.
The Ebola disease, which first emerged in Central Africa’s Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC) 20 years ago, spreads from one person to another by contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs or through contact with contaminated environments. Given the porous nature of the Liberia-Sierra Leonean border, as well as the cross-border interactions-either through trade and commerce or farming, between citizens of the two countries, the experience from neighboring Guinea is also very possible. We must all remember that Lofa, Gbarpolu, Grand cape Mount and may be Bomi Counties are also situated on our border with Sierra Leone.
If at all nothing is being done towards awareness and sensitization in these counties, now is the time for the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to accelerate its movement so that the threat of the deadly disease can be put under control. And if the necessary precautionary measures are already being executed by the Ministry, we can only appreciate Minister Walter Gwanigale and his Health Ministry team for intervening in time.
If and only if this is the case, what is most needed is vigorous public/community awareness and sensitization through the radio, especially those in counties at the border with Sierra Leone- just little beyond that which was done with the Guinean Ebola experience. We must not forget so soon-Ebola is still powerful and effective; if it could reach us from Guinea, it is also very possible to reach us from Sierra leone.