By: Timothy T. Seaklon & Morrison O.G. Sayon
Several experts from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) based in Atlanta Georgia, United States of America, have arrived in the country to join others in Liberia to fight the Ebola scourge. Also in the country to help fight the deadly disease, is a team of doctors and other experts from Medicine San Frontier (MSF) and Doctors Without Border.
Making the disclosure yesterday at the regular weekly Press Briefing of the Ministry of Information, Assistant Health Minister, Tolbert G. Nyenswah said the experts are here to help in the fight against Ebola which has now become a serious problem.
Minister Nyenswah said the epidemic is so serious that the MSF is now collaborating with government and its partners to build a large center where Ebola patients can be treated closed to the ELWA Hospital.
Minister Nyenswah told journalists that the Ebola disease is now confirmed to be in seven of Liberia’s fifteen counties and named them as Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
Minister Nyenswah also disclosed that the Regional Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) for Africa is also due in Liberia to extend more support to the country.
He also told journalists that it has been confirmed that health workers have been rejecting patients who go to the various hospitals but a meeting was called following which they were advised not to reject patients.
Assistant Minister Nyeswah said the Ebola epidemic is rapidly spreading and called on Liberians to take the disease seriously and take sick relatives to health centers where if confirmed with the disease, they can be isolated for prompt treatment.
Also speaking at the News Conference, a representative of MSF urged Liberians to take the issue of Ebola seriously as the disease is spreading.
MSF Official who claimed to have had fifteen years experience of fighting Ebola said the Ebola disease has not been so serious in places she had worked as it is in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
She disclosed that MSF is supporting Foyah, Voinjama and will soon erect a bigger treatment site at the ELWA to fight the Ebola disease.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and partners in a release issued and read by Minister Nyeswah at the News Conference said there is neither VACCINE nor CURE for Ebola. The release noted that ‘Bitter Kola’ as reported is not a CURE for Ebola.
The Ministry is therefore requesting the public to report anyone or group of people seen administering VACCINE supposedly for the prevention of Ebola or any form of drugs (tablets, herbs or injection) in the communities to the nearest police station or immediately call Lonestar 1333 and Cellcom 4455.
The Ministry of Health is also requesting the public not to listen to any other information from unknown individuals or groups except that which is provided by the Ministry of Health and partners. The Ministry said anyone caught will be prosecuted.
The Ministry is also calling on the public to take all necessary preventive measures, including: Avoiding touching dead bodies, body fluids, materials of infected Ebola persons; avoid direct physical contact, such as handshakes, kissing and direct contact with body fluids of infected or dead persons or animals and constantly wash hands with soap and water.
Meanwhile, four additional counties have been re-categorized as response counties bringing the total number of counties affected by the Ebola virus in Liberia to Seven (7). They include: Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties.
The Ministry further said to date, 179 cases have been reported with 67 confirmed cases while at least 105 deaths have been recorded with 48 confirmed deaths since the second wave of the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Liberia from May 29 to July 16, 2014.
In a related development, as the deadly Ebola virus continues to spread in the country, the Liberian Senate has expressed grave concern over the death toll of the epidemic and has therefore mandated the Executive Branch of government to declare a State of Emergency against the Ebola.
The virus which has so far extended to seven of Liberia’s 15 counties according to a well-prepared report from the Senate Committee on Gender, Health, Social Welfare and Women and Children Affairs on the Ebola Epidemic, has claimed the lives of at least 173 since March to July 15, 2014.
The report from the committee generated emotional deliberation amongst lawmakers some of whom argued that their counties were not benefiting from funds being released to combat the deadly virus.
The committee said since March to July 15, the death toll has hit 173 with Lofa reporting the highest of 110 deaths. Following the reading of the report, Grand Bassa County Senator, and President Pro-tempore of the Senate, Gbenzohngar Findley said he has met the leadership of the House of Representatives to mandate President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to declare a state of emergency against the virus.
The lawmakers including Sen. Fredrick Cherue of River Gee, Thomas Gupee of Nimba and Sen. Oscar Cooper of Margibi County said the Ebola epidemic is rapidly spreading and claiming the lives of the citizens and as such money must be provided to enable health workers battle the virus.
“Ebola has spread to seven counties and the death toll is increasing; let the government do all now to prevent further spread of this virus. Let us as Senators get involved in the social mobilization and press on the Executive to make available the US$1.5 million requested by the Health Ministry to contain the Ebola,” Pro-tempore Findley told his colleagues.
For Sen. Cherue, money is urgently needed for logistics as some hospitals and clinics in the country are now refusing patients. “Let us take this matter as urgent as we can because nurses at the various clinics and hospitals are not protected and we have the responsibility to save lives so, let’s act now with urgency,” Cherue stated.
Nimba County Senator, Thomas Gupee wants health authorities identify specialized hospitals and clinics with trained personnel to respond to the issue of Ebola with care and professionalism. He called on those carrying fake vaccines around to give the people hope to immediately desist from doing so or face prosecution.
For Sen. Cooper, nothing is more precious or valuable than human lives and therefore the US$1.5 million requested for, must be made available immediately to save lives and contain the further spread of the virus. He also called on the Senate to act now saying that the Government is responsible to act in times of emergency. “We must craft a resolution and order the Executive to get the requested US$1.5 million because in just few days 111 persons have died from Ebola so the state of emergency is necessary to mobilize resources to fight against the deadly virus,” Sen. Cooper stated.