Although I was one of the harshest critics of the handling of the Ebola virus epidemic in Liberia, watching how the out of control the spread of it has become and the fear and confusion of innocent people in Liberia makes my heart break. Seeing victims and sufferers being turned back from quarantine centers due to over-capacity and hearing news that the spread of the disease is so out of control, it poses a threat to the country’s national and corporate existence, is so overwhelmingly sad.
There were so many other issues which I had wanted to write on this week; the spread of those lunatic insurgents, their declaration of a caliphate, the kidnap of more Nigerian children, the upcoming APC presidential primaries. But I am so devastated about the current situation in Liberia, I felt it was only proper to support Liberians and explore ways we can contribute in helping them through such a dark period.
It is with profound lugubriousness, melancholy and heavyheartedness that I am penning down this piece, in an attempt to evoke national and international awareness, sympathy, and assistance, for the plight of our fellow West-African brothers and sisters.
As Africans, as humans, we should all feel a reflective responsibility and a great burden to show love, support and assistance towards this unprecedented quandary Liberians are currently facing. The time for unfavorable sentiments and blame game has got to be over, as it’s now about the people and humanity. It’s about the survival of a nation and society. It’s about the survival of a culture and a community. It is so sad and pathetic watching our brothers and sisters in their country scurrying around for food and better health-care facilities, and the governments’ heartfelt appeal to the international community for food supplies to at least be brought in for their sustenance and survival.
Since Ebola made its debut in Liberia, it has been relentless — spreading like wild fire, devouring everything in its path. The speed and scale of the loss of lives, and the economic, social, political and security reverberations of the crisis have done great damage to Liberia. The epidemic has further overwhelmed the normal functioning of the already weak health-care system in Liberia, as the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated that Liberia is suffering from Ebola more than any other African country, and scores are dying as a result of the virus.
On August 16, 2014, a quarantine centre in Monrovia was attacked by protesters, causing a number of patients being monitored for Ebola to flee, while blood-soaked bedding and other infected items were removed. This incident was seen by health officials as a disaster, as it has accelerated the spread of the disease within the country. Evidently, Liberia is bearing the full brunt of the Ebola scourge, which has also hit some West African countries, including Nigeria. Cases of infection have already been registered in Sierra Leone, Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal.
The Ebola virus mortality rate is 53 per cent and there is no officially approved medication for the disease. Experts claim prevention is the only cure, and isolation is the only way to stop its spread.
Available data shows that Liberia alone has seen more than 3,000 cases of infection and almost 2,000 deaths. Also, Ebola has been exacting a heavy toll on West African medical personnel. Doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers currently represent about 15 per cent of deaths from the virus in Liberia. Sadly, each death of an African doctor, researcher or nurse represents a loss of human knowledge that the world needs to help prevent and treat future outbreaks.
While one must commend the efforts of individuals, countries, and international organizations that have been donating funds, supplies, transport, logistics, and personnel to Liberia, I feel more needs to be done to help and support the countries affected, especially Ebola. Every African country must know that this not just a Liberian, Guinean or Sierra Leonean catastrophe; the world needs to appreciate that this is not just an African catastrophe, but a disaster for global public health.
While I subscribe to the imposition of travel bans and the closure of borders, more than anyone else, I vehemently am sickened by the discrimination and stigmatization of citizens and countries currently besieged with the Ebola scourge. In one piece of news that was broadcast, a restaurant somewhere in the Far East pasted a sign outside its premises with a bold message: NO AFRICANS ALLOWED INTO THE RESTAURANT.
The trend witnessed from the international community, particularly from Western countries since the outbreak of Ebola earlier this year, is an insensitive outbreak of complacency, half-measures, sensationalism and stigmatization toward Africa. This attitude has only exacerbated the problem.
While global celebrities are currently engaged in the latest positive charity trend; the “ALS ice bucket challenge” (an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on someone's head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and to encourage donations to go into research), a similar campaign should be brought, in this part of the world, to promote awareness for the plight of those currently battling the Ebola scourge. Our celebrities, government officials and everyone with a platform and opportunity should encourage donations for research and assistance in finding a lasting vaccine for the Ebola virus. It’s all well and good for our African celebrities to replicate the trend of the western celebrities, especially when it comes to creating awareness to charity by pouring buckets of ice and cold water on their heads (Even if a large majority of those celebrities most likely are unaware of what Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is and even if they probably did not go ahead to make the necessary donation that forms the basis of the ALS challenge after pouring the water on their heads), it would be a welcome idea if a system could be encouraged to help tackle The Ebola Virus Disease.
Thinking of Liberia, one can only envision the extent of hunger and strife in that country at this very minute. One can only imagine the amount of suffering and hardship Liberians would be made to endure due to the closure of its borders and that of other countries; no people or goods going in or out.
Everyone is at risk as Ebola is no respecter of person, regardless of status, age, or gender. There are valid reports that clumps of whole families are completely being wiped out. I mean, the situation is so bad people are being rejected from Ebola treatment centers due to the record amount of infected people. The minimal health facilities are currently full and an increasing number of infected people are left to fend for themselves with the few days they probably have before certain death.
Further reports state that the sick arrive each day, at the few under-funded and ill-equipped Ebola treatment centers, hopeful that their timing and symptoms will get them past the gate. Even so, 7 in 10 will die inside — slightly better odds than the 9 in 10 who are dying in the community.
At one particular Ebola treatment center in Paynesville, on the outskirts of Monrovia, there are just 160 beds. On a particular day, about 23 people were admitted with Ebola-like symptoms in that facility and 25 had to be turned away. Nine died and seven had to be released after showing signs of recovery to create more space for other infected people.
I wish to use this medium to call on all well-meaning Nigerians and Africans — leaders, celebrities, philanthropists and humanitarians; non-governmental organizations, international aid agencies and the international community to have a “listening ear”, a compassionate heart and lend a “helping hand” to the plight of Liberians and countries currently besieged by the Ebola epidemic. Let each and every one of us donate judiciously to Liberia in an attempt to alleviate their suffering, as they are all at risk of contracting the deadly Ebola virus.
I am all for closing the borders, so nobody can leave Liberia for now until the situation has been contained, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with officials wearing the full protective gear delivering good to Liberia and the other two infected countries.
Financial contributions, food supplies, health-care facilities, protective gear, and equipment should be donated and given to Liberia in helping them fight the Ebola epidemic that has crippled and brought to a halt every facet of their social, political, economic and communal life.
In addition, the Liberian government via their embassies worldwide should open up a trust fund where financial donations, equipment and supplies could be made by concerned individuals, organizations and countries. I will be donating the small sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100, 000:00) to the plight of Liberians by delivering a cheque to the Liberian Embassy in the hope that the fund could be used in some way to help those in Liberia who are suffering. I urge the Liberian, Guinean and Sierra Leonean embassy to open a roster where they can keep track of funds donated and periodically make accounts to the public on how the contributions are being used to help in this dreadful war with Ebola.
I am hoping and praying as many Nigerians as possible can donate the amount they can afford to help our fellow African sisters and brothers struck and threatened by Ebola. May God watch over all the sufferers of this disease and may God continue to protect and eventually end Ebola in all the countries affected.
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