Liberia is facing a serious national health crisis that seems yet to attract the appropriate attention and response from the government so much so that the deadly Ebola Virus Disease is rapidly engulfing the entire country with the death toll rising daily. Since the reemergence of the virus in the country about three months ago, the official death toll is rapidly approaching 200 with doctors and nurses topping the list of victims. Yet still, the level of proactive intervention by the government that should include safety measures and aggressive public education is found wanting, let alone a decisive approach that would bring the entire population to attention.
We believe it is about time that the government declares a State of Emergency here and directs portion of the national budget to fight the looming health calamity that stands to bring this country to its knees. Although Liberia’s borders with her neighbors are porous, but we think government should close all official borders with neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone to reduce the influx of infected relatives and suspected individuals.
Besides, it is time that Health Ministry authorities stop the too much talking and commence tangible steps by providing adequate safety gears for health workers across the country, particularly doctors and nurses, and sending mobile teams into various communities to screen informative films and educate the citizenry on preventive tips.
With an import-driving and fragile economy like ours, we are also fully aware of the externalities associated with shutting down borders, but do we have a choice? No, we don’t! The safety of Liberians should be government’s first priority before being in solidarity with our neighbors, in this case, Guinea and Sierra Leone where the disease is coming from. A State of Emergency would allow us as a nation to direct our collective focus on fighting the Ebola Virus Disease not only to save lives, but protect our posterity.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has called on Liberians to see the deadly Ebola disease in the country as a national emergency and stop politicizing the issue, stressing that a united front will complement the efforts of government and its partners to successfully fight the virus. This is why we believe it is necessary that government should go a step further by declaring a State of Emergency which will demonstrate to our partners the gravity of the endemic.
Already, the government had reported that seven of Liberia’s 15 counties have been infected by the virus with recent being Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Bong and Nimba counties. The authorities had earlier named Lofa, Montserrado and Margibi counties as the three initially affected areas.
We should not wait until the entire country is engulfed with Ebola before taking those necessary steps that could save us from uncontrollable deaths. Liberia has a very youthful population whose hopes and aspirations should not be aborted either by our actions or inactions. “A stitch in time”, it is said, “saves nine.”