The World Health Organization’s advisor to Liberia, Dr. Peter Clement, has advised the people of Lofa County and Liberia in general not to see people with Ebola as enemies, adding that the virus is the real enemy.
A press statement issued in Monrovia said against advice from UN security, Dr Clement travelled 12 hours over dirt roads to Lofa, near the Liberian border with Guinea; and once there; he walked into the hostile communities and went straight to the chiefs.
“In many years, you have not fought with these people,” he told them.”Now you attack them. They are not the enemy, Ebola is the enemy. If we don’t chase Ebola, it will kill us. You have to know Ebola to fight Ebola. Mobilize your people. Let’s get to know Ebola.” Dr. Clement noted.
Dr Clement, who said the key to working with a hostile community is listening first, further sit patiently and listened to the community to understand their fears, and later started to explain about the virus and how people can prevent from getting infected.
After the residents understood what Ebola was and how to stop it, they declared together: “No more Ebola in our community from today.” The statement pointed that after the brief meeting with residents, a plan was developed by the community dwellers immediately that spread to all the households.
“Ebola is a disease, not a curse, not a government plot. Those that are sick must go to the MSF clinic in Foya. No one can bury their loved ones anymore,” residents cautioned. The statement added that though the residents have been very friendly, they assured that there will be no more physical contacts when greeting one another.
“They call us when anyone is sick,” he says. “We no longer have to go looking for the patients. The communities understand and they help us.” Dr. Clement said the impact was significant, and further that today, there are only a few patients in the MSF clinic and it is the only place in the country an Ebola clinic is planning to downsize beds – from 140 to 40.
“No one is celebrating yet, it is too soon. But everyone stays vigilant to ensure that Foya remains on the right track towards no more Ebola in the community,” Dr. Clement concluded.