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WHO warns Liberia – Gov’t vows to screen West Point

The World Health Organization or WHO has warned Liberia that opening Ebola treatment units is not enough in combating the deadly disease that is ravaging the country. The WHO urged the government to execute more sensitization.

A day after roughly 20 Ebola suspects fled a holding unit massively looted by rampaging youth in the Township of West Point in Central Monrovia; the WHO Country Representative to Liberia, Dr. Nestor Ndayirimije warned that Ebola will continue as long as citizens were not adhering to preventive messages.

At a news conference on Sunday, August 17, Dr. Nestor called on Representatives and Senators, community and religious leaders all over the country and the civil society to sensitize the citizenry that Ebola is preventable.

“If we continue opening Ebola treatment units, it’s not enough. We need to do a lot on prevention. We are here to call on community leaders all over the country, religious leaders, representatives in the House, Senators, Civil Society to come together and sensitize each and every Liberian to know that this Ebola is preventable,” Dr. Nestor said.

The WHO envoy noted that though it recognizes that Ebola has caused so many problems, however, the disease can be prevented by avoiding touching patients, dead bodies and body fluids of Ebola patients.

He urged those who have been hiding Ebola suspects or contacts not to “do so anymore,” and reemphasized calls for community leaders to sensitize their people to remain within their localities where the health team will monitor and help them or move them to Ebola treatment units. Dr. Nestor told reporters that early admission of Ebola patients increases to “maximum chances of survival.

Already, he said the government referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy or JFK Ebola treatment unit will be managed jointly by Liberian Doctors, nurses and Physician Assistants with support from the WHO, especially with assistance from a team very experienced in Ebola from Uganda.

As of Sunday, he said, the JFK got 50 Liberian health workers and volunteers to work in the Ebola treatment unit, saying “this is the first time the WHO sees this- that’s very encouraging.”

He said over the last three weeks, training was done by doctors and the case management unit, and they will build “capacities among 400 health workers in Monrovia.” More volunteers are being encouraged from other counties across Liberia to come over and be volunteers, he said.

Notwithstanding, Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services Tolbert Nyensuah said proper screening will be conducted in the slum community of West Point to identify patients held at the vandalized Ebola holding unit.

He told reporters on Sunday, August 17 that closed to 90 percent of those who fled the holding unit lived in West Point, and that they had moved back to their houses when rampaging youth looted the unit on Saturday, August 16.

“But as we speak, those people- the bulk of them closed to 80 to 90 percent, live in that community from West Point; so they have moved back- back to the houses that they came from… we will still ensure and carry on screening in the West Point area and identify those patients that we were keeping in there,” said Mr. Nyensuah.

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