Well, it is time once more to provide another update on the Ebola situation in Liberia. But, first, we wish to express our thankfulness to the merciful God of heaven and earth for helping us to be alive and healthy at this point in time. We are grateful to God because many people, both Liberians and non-Liberians, have lost their lives to the virus since its outbreak in March, but he has kept us alive through His grace. Already more than 2,500 people have died thus far.
We are having a pre-outreach briefing
However, in the last few days, there have been reports that the number of Ebola patients going to treatment centers is slightly reducing in two of the highly hit places – Montserrado County, whose capital is Monrovia, and Lofa County – but a lot of people are welcoming and accepting this quite good news cautiously and skeptically for two main reasons. First, the infection rate of the virus is increasing in other parts of the country, like in Grand Cape Mount County. Second, the infection rate has also re-intensified in Sierra Leone and Guinea, where it had earlier been reported that the virus had reduced.
Some Highlights and Related News
1. Many new Ebola treatment centers and laboratories are being built in various parts of the country.
a. The US Government, through USAID, is constructing a huge treatment center in a place called Congo Town, which is right around the capital.
b. A fraternity organization just completed another 96-bedroom treatment center and turned it over to the government a few days ago.
2. The government of Cuba sent 49 doctors and health experts to Liberia a few days ago, to help in the fight against the virus.
Students conducting awareness training
3. Another Liberian doctor called Thomas Scotland died of the virus on Monday. He left behind four little children and a pregnant wife. Many of Liberia’s doctors and nurses have died of Ebola in many different places. It is a serious blow to our already broken healthcare system.
4. Another problem faced is strike actions staged by health workers. They have been complaining about low salary and lack of benefits and other incentives. Liberian lawmakers have summoned the Minister of Health on a few occasions, but nothing has really changed. In fact, some of the lawmakers are demanding the resignation of the Minister, but he says he has the support of the President
5. There have been reports that the government is planning to dismiss a lot of people, which the lawmakers have condemned and warned the Executive to drop the plan, but the government has denied having any such plan. Most people are already jobless in this country. Besides, many people working with the government were told to stay at home because the government considers them “non-essential staff.”
A few of my colleagues talking with a group of young people about Ebola safety measures
6. The prices of food and medicines, as well as other essential commodities, have increased on the Liberian market. According to the Minister of Commerce and Industry of Liberia, Mr. Axel M. Addy, three main reasons are responsible for the increase in prices.
a. Many ships coming to Liberia are subjected to very harsh restrictions.
b. Many vessels are refusing to come to Liberia.
c. Insurance has increased on vessels coming to Liberia.
7. Liberia should have had a mid-term election for senators on Tuesday, October 14, but that was not possible because of the state of emergency imposed as a result of the Ebola outbreak. Meanwhile, the National Election Commission has set a new date, which is December 16.
8. Some in government, including lawmakers, have begun suggesting that schools should be allowed to re-open; however, there has been no official pronouncement from the President on this.
A fellow law student and I before an outreach session
Law Students Ebola Awareness Campaign
As indicated in the last update, we ended Phase Two of our awareness on Saturday, October 11. In Phase One, we talked with 3,285 people – 1,757 men, 939 women and 586 children. In Phase Two, we talked with 3, 429 people – 1,372 men, 1,132 women and 931 children.
After resting for about two weeks, we commenced Phase Three yesterday, Thursday, October 23. It will go for four weeks, two times a week. I am still the Coordinator for Outreach.