Ebola Update: it creeps back into Liberia

With 3 new confirmed cases in the past week in Liberia, it proves that more intervention is required to bring Ebola’s spread to a standstill.

Just this past week, the World Health Organization has recorded 30 confirmed cases – 13 in Guinea, 3 in Liberia and 14 in Sierra Leone. while this is a small number it is the first time in several months that new cases have arrived in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown and Guinea’s capital and largest city Conakry.

Being said, there is immense response from various people and organisations. In Liberia, the religious sector has aided in defeating the virus. For a very long time, the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) expanded its power in making a change from prayers to actions in preventive awareness, contact tracing, providing medical supplies and food and material relief. The response actions from the council were honoured over the weekend by Liberian Government with distinction of Commander, Order of the Star of Africa.

Experts are also taking a lead role in extinguishing the virus, such as Marie Clare Therese Fwelo Mwanza a health promotions officer from Remote Medical International, and a social mobilization expert helped end 5 of the 7 Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo – and was in Guinea for support the response teams.

Speaking to P. Haughton for WHO Mwanza noted certain similarities in the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and in DRC. In the past in DRC, rumours that the Ebola treatment Units were selling body parts to the black market waved the affected areas thus causing unsafe burials, and increase in infection. Recently in Guinea, there was a rumour of blood being sold. Recently, Guinean citizens spoke of rumours of blood being sold. In this, Mwanza performed the challenging task of understanding the rumours and maintaining ways to earn the community’s trust and engage with the community to dispel such myths.

This gruelling task she achieved in the DRC, Mwanza focused on the nature of the message, the involvement of the community leaders and engaging the entire community to see the process of healing or safe burials. This goes back to the essence of fighting the virus, we all need to be engaged in bringing the spread to zero – whether we remain in the red zone or not. Our own organs such as the AU or regional organs must play more of a significant role – with caution that if we do not reach a zero level, this could become a global crisis.