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Ebola stigma must end

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn Liberia-Bill Clinton Tells Liberians

Former US President Bill Clinton has emphasized an end to public stigmatization against Ebola survivors, during a close interaction with Liberia’s Ebola Survivors Network in Monrovia.

Mr. Clinton paid a visit here on Monday along with his daughter, Chelsea.

He jointly held media Spray with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Foryer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before both leaders went into bilateral talks at the Ebola Command Center in Sinkor.

Ex-President Clinton said he did not want the world to forget about the Ebola-hit countries and the plight of survivors, and that he had come to see how they can try to help.

But he said: “we want no discrimination,” urging the public and communities where survivors once lived before being infetced to simply follow the public health rules that were announced by Liberian health authorities because, he said: “we have to pass” the stage of stigma.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf also said the best option for now was for the Ebola survivors to get back into their communities, urging them to stay strong as the government will work with Survivors’ Coordinator Dr. Jennice Cooper and the Ministry of Genger and Social Protection in handdling issue of reintegration.

Earlier, Dr. Cooper had said it was taking too much time, and that there were difficulties in getting the survivors back, owing to the issue of stigma. But she, however, said they were collaborating with the Ministry of Gender.

During a chat with President Sirleaf and Ex-President Clinton, the survivors lamented so many problems confronting them, ranging from public stigma and discrimination regarding health issues.

One of the survivors, Mr. Patrick S. Faley, said stigma has caused him and others to lose jobs, stressing the need for Mr. Clinton, as well as the Liberian Government to intervene.

Another survivor- Mr. Henry Tony, complained that some female survivors suffer stomach problems, while some of their male counterparts suffer impotency and discrimination.

Mr. Tony said he has personally developed low memory, and that he is now quick to forget, emphasizing that “we are denied in the society.”

Another survivor- Mr. Amos Jesey, added that his community has refused to accept him back since he survived Ebola from the Treatment Unit where, he said, he spent 100 days.

Mr. Jesey noted that stress and stigma “were killing and beating” Ebola survivors because society was refusing them.

By Winston W. Parley

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