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Liberia's Ebola crisis and presidential incompetence

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh         Patient with the Ebola virus



The Ebola virus started in neighboring Guinea. Sadly, it is now Liberia’s turn.

With its deadly symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, internal and external bleeding, the virus is causing pain and heartaches among the Liberian people.

A country that just came out a civil war and continues to struggle from the ravages of that deadly war shouldn’t have to grapple with the Ebola virus and the painful tragedies it continues to dish out to the Liberian people.

At least Liberians who wants nothing but peace, security, good health and prosperity in their country understands where I am coming from; and wishes that the Ebola virus will go away completely before it throws our people and country back million years.

With bad political leadership making life even unbearable, and uncertainty about the strategy the Sirleaf administration is using to fight the deadly virus makes it even more troubling to know how long, and how many people must die before the Liberian government fights back?

So far, it seems the Liberian government of Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is not fighting back harder enough to at least contain the virus, and instill confidence in a traumatized people who cannot shake off the virus that looms in the country.

Anxieties are building up and national chaos has become the way of life in a country where the strong are always expected to survive, and the weak are being buried either fast or not so fast to enable the strongest and the willing to bury the next victim.

So frustrated with the incompetence of the do-nothing president and the Ministry of Health for the death of his 14-year old brother , one Edward Deline set the ministry on fire to protest his brother’s death from the Ebola virus. As the number of Ebola deaths inches upward, other Liberians who lost relatives to the virus could take matters into their hands by setting buildings on fire, or fatally injuring government officials.

The number of deaths caused by the Ebola virus is over 100 and counting, and the value Liberians, including elected and appointed officials place on human life in this era since the end of the civil war that reportedly killed over 200,000 is at its lowest.

“I saw so many people including my friends and relatives died around me during the civil war. This time when I see people dying, it concerns me; but I just continue to go wherever I am going. There is nothing I can do but protect myself,” a Liberian whom I discussed the Ebola pandemic with said.

The same Liberian told me during our phone conversation that Liberians who believe they are not infected with the Ebola virus are hurriedly moving to other parts of the city of Monrovia, hoping to get away from their sick friends, relatives and their neighborhoods.

If what he told me is true, and if nothing is done to aggressively fight the deadly virus, than sadly, the Ebola virus will definitely be around Liberia for a long, long time.

Because what is happening is as those people who are understandably in a panic mode moved from one location to the other, it is possible for an infected individual or a group of people to unknowingly take the virus with them and spread it to their new locations and their new neighbors.

In this case, the Sirleaf administration should have intervened immediately by discouraging and stopping (for the sake of public health and public safety) the movement of people from one area of town to the other, since one of the few ways to contain the Ebola virus is to monitor people and quarantine those that are believed to be sick with the virus.

Hopefully, Liberians will not see my suggestion of discouraging or preventing the movement of people from one part of town to the other in this Ebola virus era as tramping on the civil liberties of Liberians.

As a frequent critic of Madame Sirleaf and the Sirleaf administration, I will be the first to criticize her and protest such decision had it not been about protecting the Liberian people from the Ebola virus. However, protecting the Liberian people and the Liberian nation are my concerns at this moment.

As is the case with most decisions coming out of Liberia and the Sirleaf administration, the Liberian people are always left out of the decision-making process.  Also, in most cases with Liberian presidents (the current president is no exception), Madame Sirleaf is so worshipped and feared that she often gets away with murder.

With the stubborn Ebola virus undermining the daily activities of the Liberian people, and also claiming the lives of their relatives and loved ones, has it ever occurred to the national legislature to ask the president or her senior health officials to testify before them to know what they are doing to contain or eradicate the Ebola virus in the Liberian society?

Or since the Ebola crisis has been mishandled in an incompetent way by the president and her health officials, is Madame Sirleaf capable of garnering the courage to resign the presidency or fire Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, her Minister of Health who has been on the public dole forever, and has mishandled this crisis?

If President Sirleaf refuses to resign, and if Dr. Gwenigale is not fired by Sirleaf, hopefully, a new administration will do the right thing by getting rid of him and bringing in young and dynamic medical professionals who are in tune with the modern practices of medicine that can make a difference in the country.

The Ebola crisis is a mournful headliner and an unnecessary distraction in Liberia right now.

Depending on how quick the crisis is dealt with to prevent more deaths and heartaches for Liberian families, this health crisis is destabilizing lives, and could also affect the midterm elections.









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