By Morrison O. G. Sayon
Amidst positive news of the survival of persons affected by the Ebola virus, latest report says victims at the ELWA Ebola Isolation Center are leaving the camp due to lack of food.
Disclosing this at the National Ebola Task Force Meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia yesterday, Health Minister, Walter Gwenigale, said he had received several calls from the center that the people are hungry and need food.
According to Dr. Gwenigale, based on this latest report, most of the victims are now leaving the center which is a major threat to several communities in which those leaving are going. “I’m getting calls every day of the lack of food; the people say they are hungry and I understand that there is food there but I’m getting these calls every minute,” Liberia’s Health Minister Gwenigale said.
In quick clarification, Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, said food is available at the various Isolation Camps but those who are making the calls may need special diet. Nyenswah said the victims are being provided meal three times daily adding that the callers are the higher-ups who may need special kind of diet.
Minister Nyenswah promised that an investigation will be launched into the complaint by the Ebola victims and solution be found in addressing the issue. He also disclosed that the Ministry of Health has received seven tons of food from the World Health Organization (WHO) for those quarantined at the various isolation centers.
At the same time, the Presidential Task Force on Ebola is considering quarantining the densely populated community of West Point in Monrovia and Dolo Town in Margibi County. West Point is a slum populated community with an estimated population of over 20,000 inhabitants, while in Dolo Town report says at least 25 persons have died due to strange circumstances.
At the meeting yesterday, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf proposed to the Task Force the isolation of West Point and Dolo Town. The two highly populated communities have reported high rate of Ebola deaths in recent times. The task force is also considering the closing of the Waterside General Market to stop affected persons from leaving the community.
Due to the rapid spread of Ebola in the country, the Ministry of Health opened one holding center in a household in West Point on Wednesday. The Ministry is planning to open2-3 more in the next few days based upon protocols designed by MSF and the Case management team, to isolate and hold patients before moving them to the JFK or ELWA.
President Sirleaf reasoned that to isolate West Point and densely populated areas is a difficult task but the Task Force must consider and study the situation before making final decision on the issue. At the same time, the Task Force also wants the Duala Market to be cleared so as to avoid those in the Duala area from contracting the virus.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai has called on Government to begin taking some drastic measures to stop further spread of the Ebola virus that is killing hundreds of Liberians on a daily basis. Samukai said sternly that West Point must be quarantined with the closure of the market and that another densely populated area of Duala be cleared.
The Defense Minister said if these steps are not taken, the virus will continue to spread and claim more lives in the coming days and months. He added, “If you can’t contain those areas, you can’t resolve the problem.”
Other members of the Task Force are calling for the imposition of curfew to stop the movement of individuals in various communities. They also want Ebola message being played on radios to be changed as the right messages are not being sent out to the public.