I was in a gathering that was supposed to be intellectually charged but heard a contrary statement from a so-called educated individual and also very prominent. He asserted “That disease does not exist”. His claim was in doubt or denial that the lethal Ebola Disease does not exist. Upon hearing this statement, I immediately shook my head in opposite directions (from left to right) in total disbelief to his assertion. I quietly said to myself “is he serous?”. Why will he say such thing?
The first step to preventing or curing any disease is the acceptance that it exists. This is same with this deadly Ebola Disease that has full our hands. When you read the newspaper (local and international), browse the websites of Samaritan Purse, Medicin San Frontier, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), tune on the radio and television (local and international), you get information appraising that the disease truly exists especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and now Nigeria. So what is triggering the doubt especially among educated people? I would understand if an uneducated person will live in disbelief but not an educated one. This is not about opinions anymore but facts that the disease is here.
In Liberia, many cherish the politicization of almost everything. This has extended to the point that once you are capable of expressing yourself to a smaller or larger public, you automatically consider yourself a politician which in most instances triggers the politicization. The issue of this disease is being politicized with claims that it is just a makeup by the government to acquire some money. Why should we advance such ugly thought that will do us nothing in uprooting a disease that is killing people by the day? With the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) to generate funds for the affected countries, there will be a lot of hubbub here as regards the proper use of the funds. As the educated ones, you are to inform others who do not comprehend issues surrounding the disease. You are a torch-bearer and a leader and as such, the definition of your role should be actualized.
Furthermore, let me emphasize that the Ebola Disease is real and it is killing people by the day. It has a 60 to 90% mortality rate with no cure but can be prevented. Some of the symptoms are red eyes, rash, sore throat, stomach pain, high fever, diarrhea and vomiting, headache, and bleeding from every opening on the body. The disease can be prevented by staying away from people who show the above listed symptoms or use protective clothing when caring for ill persons, stay away from dead bodies, wash your hands with soap and chlorinated water very often, avoid eating bush meat, bats and fruits bitten by bats. These were the pieces of information my colleague, Abigail Hanky, and I shared during our awareness campaign in the Lakpazee Community. It was voluntarily done with the backing of the Lakpazee Community Church.
Additionally, this disease has glaringly exposed further the weak health system we have. All health centers around Liberia need the specially made protective clothing and disinfectants to prevent themselves and aid them in eradicating this disease. Care givers, especially the health workers are likely to contracting the disease because they are usually the first point of contact with ill people. Consequently, they should be given all the necessary tools to protect themselves. Kudos to the health practitioners, especially the nurse aids, nurses, physician assistants, laboratory technicians and doctors who are doing all they can within their means to ensure that this disease is kicked out. You are our heroes and heroines. You have shown the true meaning of your callings.
A State of Emergency has been declared by the President of Liberia. An initial amount of 5 Million United States Dollars has been allocated to the fight against the disease. Additional measures including the quarantining of infected communities and borders, training of health workers, and the establishment of a call center have been instituted. Even though we expected these stringent measures when the existence of the virus was first announced in Guinea, but these are good measures to curbing this virus. An earlier attack on the virus could not have resulted to the negative situation we now have on our hands. Additionally, we should take further steps to enquiring from the United States Government as to the use of the experimental drug that was used on the two Americans that were flown from Liberia to the US. Nigeria has asked the US Government to use the drug.
All religious, social, traditional and political institutions should rise up and sensitize members on the prevention and effects of this fatal disease. Members of these institutions believe in their leaders. If these leaders should inform their members about the existence of the disease and means of preventing it, I am of the conviction that we will be riding on the right path to exterminating the illness. Least we forget that the government has the major responsibility to finding sufficient funds, expertise, equipment or tools to fighting this sickness and it must do just that.
I extend my deepest condolences to the families of all those that have lost their lives to this disease. To stop the next Ebola related death, we must accept that Ebola is real and disseminate the information in our communities and various places of worship and work.