The alarming rate at which the deadly Ebola Virus Disease or EVD is spreading in Liberia, as well as the desire for some patients to be kept in homes and churches may have attracted the attention of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf early last week. It is in view of the foregoing that the Liberian Leader, last Monday, warned of prosecution should anyone be caught hiding people suspected of the Ebola disease.
“Let this warning go out: anyone found or reported to be holding suspected Ebola cases in homes or prayer houses can be prosecuted under the law of Liberia,” President Sirleaf told a state radio (ELBC) last Monday, expressing serious concern about patients being kept in homes and churches instead of seeking medical attention.
In the wake of such risky action, health workers have also encountered resistance (and attacks) in certain quarters of the Liberian society since the confirmation of Ebola cases in the country. This latest move by President Sirleaf couple with other recent action buttressing efforts against the disease further demonstrates not only the political will, but the national urgency attached to these efforts. Such move by the President and the government must now only stimulate the interest and concern of us all in a holistic effort against the deadly Ebola virus.
While the President, government and good-will international partners strives with the mobilization of the funds and resources/logistics for the current battle against the EVD, it also now incumbent upon us all- especially parents, guardians and families to help themselves by engaging in awareness/sensitization among their children, relatives and friends in the homes, neighborhoods, communities, villages, towns, clans, districts, cities, counties and the country as a whole.
Such awareness/sensitization must be continue to be characterized by the “do’s and don’ts” of Ebola, which entails telling them exactly what the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has told the nation to do to prevent the spread of the disease. This must also include encouraging them to listen to the radio and watch television stations for messages on the Ebola virus Disease.
Liberians must all understand that the current alarming rate of the Ebola disease is not about politics or any business as usual, but a serious national health threat- an urgency that requires total collective national efforts, if we must prevent any epidemic across our nation. The World Health Organization or WHO has described the current outbreak of the disease in West Africa as the worst/deadliest in history since the Ebola virus first emerged in humans in 1976, with more than 18 outbreaks since then. 635 cases and 367 fatalities have been reported so far, while a majority of the deaths — 280 — have been in Guinea where cases were first reported in the Mano River Union region.
The Ministry of Health, in an update released last Monday, noted that there were 49 deaths recorded so far as a result of Ebola- 26 of which were confirmed by laboratory tests.
Ebola begins as fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat, but soon progresses to vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and impaired organ function. A large proportion of those infected also bleed profusely, both internally and externally. It is considered highly contagious, though it isn’t transmitted through the air — instead it’s spread by bodily fluids like blood and saliva, which can be very hard to avoid when someone is bleeding heavily from every orifice.