Eradicating Ebola: Looking Inside From Outside-The Int’l Dimension

 

        The nation and people did not see Ebola coming, despite learning from report of its presence in a neighboring country; even after it was spotted in the northern part of the country (Liberia), still the depth of the fiercely roaring disaster did not claim the focus and rapid attention until the entire nation became overwhelmed by the virus. As Gus D. Jaeploe writes; when things got overheated and the simmering ripples began to chill the international community, it became glaring that the raging menace was no longer an exclusive health crisis for Liberia, but was now crossing borders and knocking on the doors of some big and most powerful western nations-then the alarm blew, and powerful nations realized that “when oil touches one finger, it is very possible of spreading to the rest of the fingers”. Indeed, Ebola has proven to have no fear for race, color, creed, status, culture nor does it know borders or discriminate against human life.

Again, while Liberians are being consistently and persistently reminded not to be complacent realizing the downward trend in the Ebola cases, which is also a welcoming sign of progress in eradicating Ebola, they should equally shy away from being branded as people who remember nothing.

With Ebola being around close to nine months of which three of the nine months (July, August & September) were the worse of time witnessing an alarming escalation in the death rate and massive spread of the virus affecting several thousands; it can now be said that the tide is changing and the nation and people are now breathing a sigh of relief.

At the same time, cognizant of their global responsibility to serve as brothers’ keeper in times of grave calamity plaguing certain segment and people of the common global village we all share, some members of the international community including their allies and financial institutions had to roll up their sleeves and join the fray to quell the danger and damage unleashed by the deadly Ebola Disease in the four hard-hit African countries- Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Lone and now Mali

Despite the positive response from the clarion call passionately made by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which has realized goodwill transformed into the pool of genuine cooperation, abundant donations of anti-Ebola materials coupled with a huge volume of medical experts, vast resources and technologically-driven equipment, the international community is far from being satisfied until the dreadful virus is completely eradicated from all the badly affected West African countries.

Under such prevailing canopy, the message to totally purge the affected countries of Ebola continues to reverberate across so many borders making it crystal clear that those powerful, rich and sophisticated countries will not be at ease and safe once Ebola remains a horrifying perpetual health crisis in those hard-hit nations.

Based on the global challenge to collectively and robustly fight and eradicate the Ebola scourge from these countries and ensure that it ceases to further spread to other places, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power sounded a caveat on October 30, 2014 in a soul-searching speech delivered at the German Marshall Fund on the International Response to the Ebola Crisis in Brussels.

The Ambassador in her deliberation painting a troubling picture of a character she met in Liberia during her tour to the affected West African countries. She began with these lines: “On September 18th, six weeks ago today (Oct.30, 2014) the United Nations Security Council held its first-ever emergency meeting on a health crisis”.

Ambassador Power continues: “A Liberian man named Jackson Naimah spoke to the Council via video link from Liberia. Jackson works for Médecins Sans Frontières, and is a team leader in one of MSF’s Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia. He told the Council that he had lost a niece and a cousin to the virus – both of them nurses infected at work. He said that, as he was speaking to us, sick people were outside the gates of the MSF clinic, begging to be let in and treated. MSF had to turn them away, because they had no more beds. Jackson said, “I feel that the future of my country is hanging in the balance. If the international community does not stand up, we will be wiped out.”

With the international Community looking inside from outside in its quest to eradicating Ebola from the region, Power presented another grim reflection of what is obtaining in the affected countries by saying, “you all are familiar with the statistics of what Ebola has done to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. More than 10,000 people infected. More than 5,000 people killed, nearly 250 of them health professionals. More than 4,000 children orphaned”.

The US envoy said given these stark facts, “I’m especially grateful to you all for coming. The size of the crowd here is a testament to the growing concern around the world about Ebola”.

She furthered having just returned from travelling to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; I have two simple messages for you. First, the international community is not yet doing enough to stem the tide of the epidemic, causing devastating heartbreak to countless families and allowing a global threat to metastasize. Second, based on what I saw, the contributions that have been made by the United States and many of the countries represented here have begun to save lives and offer the first tangible signs that this virus can and will be beaten.

Indeed, the joint-efforts have broken some fresh grounds with progress in the Ebola fight especially in Liberia where the once terrifying and alarming cases have taken a gradual downward trend thereby reinvigorating the courage and hope of the citizens and hardworking international partners that come  what may, the writing on the wall reads that EBOLA MUST GO!
Again, without missing her words, she noted “we stand at a historic juncture. We face the greatest public health crisis ever. And we each have the opportunity to work together in support of the brave and determined people of the region to bend the chilling curve of Ebola’s spread and to end the devastation and suffering that it has wrought. To beat this virus and to produce the seismic shift upon which the lives of an entire generation in West Africa depend, we each have to dig deeper, and we each must conquer the fears that this epidemic has generated”.

Upon the arrival of 3,000 US troops as promised by President Barack H. Obama to beef up the gallant force battling the tormentor on the ground to help chase Ebola out of Liberia; a drive that’s making fruitful headway, President Sirleaf said she hopes the decision by the United States will encourage the rest of the international community to take action, noting, “Our American Partners realized that Liberia cannot defeat the virus alone.”

According to her, the people of Liberia have suffered greatly since the disease took hold, but that Liberians are strong and resilient people, saying, “As president, I will not rest until we defeat Ebola.”

Browsing the pages of true friends and reliable partners, we proudly say hats off to the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China who have been among the many partners that have immensely contributed cash, medical experts and essential anti-Ebola materials to the fight that is well on the way of eradicating the virus from Liberia. Japan has also pumped in massive assistance while the Nigerian Government recentlysent74 healthcare workers-nurses and doctors while the African Union dispatched 200 medical personnel to the affected countries. Cuba, a country of just 11 million people, has already sent over 250 health care workers, and 200 more are on the way.

Also the European Union members announced a campaign to rally 1 billion euros in support to pay for the Ebola response, including the construction of facilities to care for patients. Countries have already pledged some 600 million euros in support, a promising sign of the commitment of EU member states. EU members have also come together to offer critical medical, air, evacuation support to international health care workers who contract Ebola, a vital assurance to those working on the frontlines to end the outbreak that they will not be left behind.

Prior to the outbreak, Liberia had approximately 50 doctors for the entire country of 4.3 million people. That’s around one doctor for every 100,000 people. Sierra Leone had two doctors for every 100,000 people. The United Kingdom, by contrast, has 279 doctors per 100,000 people. France has 318. Germany: 380. The hospital where the American doctor infected with Ebola was being treated in New York has 1,200 physicians on staff – more than 24 times the number of doctors in all of pre-Ebola Liberia.

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