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Ebola: Redoubling efforts against stigmatization

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National and international health authorities are confirming a gradual decline in the spread of the deadly Ebola disease in Liberia. Such decline is measured by the reduction of the number of cases and deaths at the various treatment units or ETUs and affected communities across Liberia. The death toll in Liberia is still slowly rising toward 3000, out of about 5000 in the West African Sub-region, according Liberian Health Ministry authorities and the World Health Organization or WHO.

While national and international health authorities are confirming the decline in the spread of the disease, they are also cautioning Liberians against complacency, regarding continuous adherence to the various prescribed preventive measures among the population. In the wake of the level of progress in the battle against the disease and encouraging news of continuous public adherence to the various preventive measures, the issue of stigmatization remains very paramount and of serious concern.

Reports of stigmatization of survivors of the Ebola and even health workers with the various ETU remain high in communities to which these survivors return and a few commercial homes in which these health workers live, especially in Monrovia. This is just indicative of the fact that very little is still being done, in terms of awareness/sensitization, against stigmatization, despite previous alarms against such social behavior.

As the Health Ministry and international partners continue to warn Liberians against complacency towards  the gradual decline in the disease, the urgent need for increase and vigor in ongoing awareness/sensitization against stigmatization of survivors of the disease and those who help them to survive (health workers) cannot be over-emphasized. Efforts toward creating awareness/sensitization among community members, especially in the Monrovia area must also be redoubled so that these Liberians can freely continue to live among their compatriots as they did before.

Community members must also be made to understand that until being infected by the virus, these survivors once lived and shared with them, and that they no different people, but their same relatives and friends recuperating and returning once more. They must be welcomed and encouraged to of great assistance to their communities in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease.

As we continue to express heartfelt gratitude to Liberian health workers and the President and Government of Liberia for withstanding the test of time in this national health crisis so much so that gradual success is emerging, we as a people must never despair, but continue to persevere in our resolve to work collectively against the national disaster in our country.

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