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MSF wants vigilance at Liberia’s borders – Ebola cases drop in Lofa

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaThe French medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF which runs an Ebola Treatment Unit in Foya, Lofa County is  warning here that “we have to stay vigilant” even if the Ebola situation in the county is stabilizing.

MSF Foya Project Coordinator, Serge ST-Louis, called for vigilance in Lofa mainly in areas connecting Liberia with Guinea, warning that Ebola is not far away from Liberia once situations worsened in the neighboring country.

“All we know is even if the officials close the borders, situation of our colleagues in Guekedu and Minceta- they’re reaching at the moment almost their full capacity.

So this is quite worrying,” he told President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Foya ETU Monday.

Ebola entered Liberia early March thru Lofa County from Guinea, killing scores of villagers before spreading to the capital, Monrovia and other counties.

On Monday, 20 October a WHO representative in Lofa County had similarly suggested that any success in Liberia cannot be celebrated “without anything falling down from Guinea and Sierra Leone.”

As President Sirleaf receives briefing on the health status in Foya and Kolahun, she said, “Today, the Ebola is going down all over the country” especially in Lofa, except in only one or two places where the President noted, the virus is still very high.

However, the MSF Foya Project Coordinator told President Sirleaf that when the French medial charity arrived in Lofa in August, there were more than 125 patients, but cases have stabilized and at a low level. For the past several weeks, the ETU in Foya where all Ebola cases from surrounding districts are transferred for treatment has had an average of “more or less than ten patients”, Mr. Louis said.

In the last 26 days, he reported that they did not have any confirmed case in Foya, Vahun and Kolahun districts, respectively, while attributing the success in Lofa to efficient and effective coordination among all actors involved in combating the outbreak; efficient, regular assistance with ambulances for Foya District and surrounding districts; and the establishment of the ETU for three districts in addition to effective health promotion.

“But the frontline of this response has been the health workers and national staff. And while we’re seeing result at the moment, we must praise that in the continuation of this response will be only efficient, will be possible if staff are fairly and adequately compensated in the timely manner,” he suggested.

He added that inside the Case Management Center or CMC, they give strong psychological support to patients and families, and have reached a high level of awareness with the involvement of leaders from various communities.

As President Sirleaf got briefing on the health status in Foya and Kolahun, she expressed government’s appreciation to health workers for their work despite the difficulties being experienced from the spread of the Ebola virus all over the country.

“Thank God because of your work, today the Ebola is going down all over the country. Only in one or two places it’s still very high. But here in Lofa, we can say now Lofa is doing so good to be able to fight this Ebola,” the President said.

She acknowledged that many of the health workers continue to serve their people, and in the process, some have even died.  “And we came to let you know that we’re trying our best to address all the issues that you have raised,” she said.

On Monday, President Sirleaf, US Ambassador Deborah Malac, Liberia’s Army Chief of Staff Daniel Dee Ziankhan, the US Military Commander to Liberia Dyril Williams, among others, flew to Foya on two separate US Military Helicopters before visiting health centers and the Foya ETU.

Bystanders mainly young people, elderly women and men carried posters, welcoming President Sirleaf and her high-level entourage with some attributing the county’s success to coordinated effort between residents and health workers, in an interview with The NewDawn.

Mr. Johnson N. Bokar, a Foya resident said they have not abandoned the preventive measures even though they observed that the Ebola infection rate is going down, saying, Now we can’t [host] strangers; we don’t move from place to place.”

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