Liberia’s Special Senatorial elections, held on Saturday, December 20, 2014 across the country, may have been free and peaceful, but far from encouraging as a result of the poor turnout. Only less than thirty-percent of a total voting population of 1.9 million participated in the process initially disfavored by majority of the population as evidenced by the very poor turnout. One primary factor responsible for the voter’s apathy last Saturday was the fear of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
Owing to the reckless behavioral pattern of many Liberians, characterized by the high degree of complacency, it would have been most rewarding for us all had we tabled the Special Senatorial Elections for the complete eradication of the disease. But again, the Supreme Court of Liberia- being the final arbiter of justice, opinionated the matter- earlier taken to the court by some eminent Liberians, in favor of the elections after initially issuing a stay order on the entire process for two weeks.
Even though we are done with the elections marred by the vices supportive of the transmission of Ebola, especially during the campaign activities, one fear we, as well as a few other well-meaning Liberians and some of our partners may be harboring at the moment is the possibility of a recurrence of the deadly Ebola virus, perhaps, following the dry season due to our ‘deliberate inability’ to continuously adhere to the various preventive measures prescribed by the Ministry of Health and international partners.
It is no secret now that in many communities and homes, as well as workplaces, entertainment centers, among others, many continue to encourage the mode of transmission such as hand-shaking, hugging, as well as avoiding hand-washing, among others. And the irony is that because of the various public pronouncements of a ‘drastic decline’ in the spread of the disease as shown by huge drop in the number of cases and deaths, these people believe that Ebola is gone.
The Ministry of Health and international partners must be hailed for continuously and effectively utilizing the radio, including the state-owned ELBC and the community radio network across the country in their anti-Ebola campaigns as a way of ‘finishing this mess” once and for all. But in addition to the foregoing, the community-based approach must also be re-enforced because the negative attitudes of most community dwellers toward the campaign are even more threatening and worrisome.
Notably, we, as a nation, may be doing very well in our fight against the Ebola disease as acknowledged by the World Health Organization or WHO and others, but if we do not “further tighten the screw” on Ebola with all of our might to the end by also dealing with ‘bad attitudes’ against our own progress in this ‘war’, we still have a far way to achieve our national goal- the complete eradication of Ebola.
While our hard-working health workers are bending backward at the frontline amid all of the adversities, we must also help them to continuously help us by ‘changing our minds and changing our attitudes’ in favor of the national anti-Ebola campaigns. It is only through such ‘change of minds and change of attitudes’ we can defeat Ebola.