Adverting a national health crisis

A strange skin disease that has reportedly affected 1,777 persons in five counties in Liberia could eventually turn into a potential national crisis here if concerted steps are not taken immediately to contain the sickness that is characterized by severe body itch and sensation.

The plague is affecting victims of all ages, including babies, toddlers, young people and even adults.The Public Health Institute of Liberia or NPHIL in collaboration with the Ministry of Health has begun an investigation into the disease that leads victims scratching their body parts both at home and in public with such intensity.

Due to the severity of itching and scratching characterized by sensation, victims often lose consciousness abruptly, unmindful of what is unfolding around them in public or who might be watching the deep sensational concentration.

Doctor Ralph Jetoh of the NPHIL says the plague has spread to Grand Bassa, Bong, and Margibi, Rivercess and Montserrado Counties, respectively, with Montserrado County, which hosts the Liberian Capital, Monrovia, recording the highest number of cases.

He surmises that the disease might be scabies that is easily transmitted thru clothes or bodily contact, warning infected victims to get rid of clothes they currently wear or disinfect them to avoid further spread.

Doctor Jetoh says surveillance officers have been deployed in various infected communities and counties respectively, but laboratory test is yet to be conducted to derive a conclusive finding.

Although health authorities in the country are recommending various medical lotions such as BB Lotion and Whitefield Oilmen, among others to contain the plague taking over its victim’s entire body, but we call for urgent laboratory test to establish actual source of this disease.

Besides, we think that pending laboratory test, mass chlorination of wells and creeks across the country should be conducted immediately, particularly in the five affected counties in case the source is water borne. It is no secret that most citizens both in Montserrado and the rest of the 14 counties lack access to pipe borne or safe-drinking water, so they drink from untreated wells, creeks and even rivers.

Even though there are no reports of similar health situation from neighboring countries, unlike the Ebola Virus Disease in 2014 that came from nearby Guinea into Liberia, killing over 5,000 of our fellow compatriots, we believe an aggressively concerted effort should be taken immediately by health authorities here to avoid a national health crisis. Maintaining a healthy population as a country should be our first priority.

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