From time to time – and even before Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9, 2015, we at the New Dawn-Liberia, emphasized the need for the borders of Liberia with Guinea and Sierra Leone to be efficiently and effectively manned to avert the recurrence of the deadly Ebola virus in our country.
Being also cognizant of the behavioral pattern of many Liberians judging from the inception of the disease, we also challenged and admonished the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health, to continue the vigorous public awareness campaign on the prescribed preventive measures against the spread of the disease among the population.
Towards this direction, we also pleaded with health authorities, international and local partners to seriously concentrate on the deployment of health workers along the borders in Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa and Nimba Counties, in collaboration with the joint security, including immigration for the monitoring of cross-border activities as a preventive measure against Ebola, while we continue to cautiously “celebrate our victory” over the deadly disease as officiated by the World Health Organization or WHO.
Our continuous emphasis was against the backdrop of the current unfavorable Ebola situation in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as the high possibility of a spill-over owing to the porous nature of our border lines with the two infected countries.
Whether or not our patriotic petition was heeded to by the Health Ministry, we can only hope that we do not make another mistake again.
“Let us celebrate, but stay mindful and vigilant,” were the words of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf during the ceremony at the Emergency Command Center of Liberia’s Incident Management System in Sinkor, Monrovia to fulfill the official criteria for concluding that human-to-human transmission of the virus had ended following the two maximum incubation periods (42 days) of the virus. Even with the warning sounded by the WHO as it issued the declaration that we must be cautious of how we celebrated, we had also hoped that while we celebrated cautiously in Monrovia and other parts of the country, the Health Ministry and partners would have placed high premium on the border areas so that others can continuously and cautiously celebrate too.
But as it is, we are again very worry about the increased rate of infection and proximity of the Ebola in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Our fear may be against the backdrop of last week’s disclosure by Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyensuah that Ebola could return to Liberia if Liberians keep harboring sick people form Guinea and Sierra Leone, with emphasis on a 67 year- old sick Guinean national transported from Beta Town in Guinea into Liberia on a Motorcycle via Jorgbeh town.
We think this sounds very scaring and troubling, and must serve as a wake-up call to the entire Liberian health sector and partners.
Again, the urgent need to seriously focus on Liberia’s border lines to monitor cross-border movements/activities cannot be over-emphasized. There must be “less talking, more concentration and work” at our borders- especially the primary border points.