The Government of Liberia has fully supported the request of the Secretary-General Ben Ki-moon for the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL to have a technical rollover for the next three months in the country.
According to a release, Liberia’s Minister of National Defense, Brownie Samukai, currently in the United States, says the country’s attention should be directed towards containing and eliminating the Ebola virus. Speaking at a council meeting in New York, Samukai said that it is unfortunate that the meeting is being held during the time Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence.
He said the disease, which early this year was identified in remote villages of Liberia, has now reached urban centers, including the capital, Monrovia. “It is now spreading like wild fire, devouring everything in its path”, Minister Samukai narrated.
He noted that the country’s weak health infrastructure has been besieged, and health workers, including doctors and nurses, who are at the Frontline of the fight to control the disease are being highly affected, with several losing their lives.
The Defense Minister said that the rapid spread of the virus created a health crisis, requiring President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to institute measures aimed at containment, including establishment of a National Task Force on Ebola, headed by herself; creation of an Incident Management Team, led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and declaration of a State of Emergency for 90 days.
He added that the measures included one month compulsory leave for non-essential government employees, now extended for the second month, to limit human to human contact, while communities with a high incidence of infections were contained and, in specific cases, quarantined in order to limit movement, coupled with a nationwide curfew currently in place.
He further explained that the Government of Liberia launched an awareness campaign with the full support of UNMIL, the Liberian media, civil society organizations, the business community and other bilateral and international partners. The Government also, through the national Legislature, provided an initial allocation of $5 million dollars to support the national strategy against the spread of the deadly virus.
Samukai said despite all those measures put in place to help stop the spread of Ebola, continue denial, traditional practices, religious rituals, fear and community resistance still constitute obstacles to progress.
He explained that the pandemic has mushroomed into a health emergency, exceeding the Government’s response capacity, adding that this deadly disease continues to spread and cause havoc in many communities with nine of the fifteen counties in Liberia currently affected.
He, however, commended Secretary General Ben Ki-moon for his leadership and initiatives in focusing global attention on the virus, including his appointment of a Special Coordinator for Ebola in the person of Dr. David Nabarro.