A tripartite Ebola attack demands a tripartite solution.


A tripartite Ebola attack demands a tripartite solution.




 

The Ebola outbreak still continues to be a sore sight of public health emergency in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. These three countries known as the Mano River Union countries (MRU), have served a common border since time in memorial, and of course quite tenuous borders which makes it all the more vulnerable to spontaneous inflow of border crossing at this time of unrest caused by the Ebola outbreak. You may recall that the demarcation of these countries, (history teaches us glaringly), was made by colonial authorities during the colonial era.

I often imagine that these three countries were a single nation before the thin lines were drawn by Britain, France and America in the 'scramble and partition for Africa'. However these countries taste a bitter-sweet relationship of economic and business exchanges and of diseases war and upheavals.

The recent spate of Ebola outbreak in the past months since the disease was first confirmed and the almost spontaneous attack and spread of the virus in all three countries in dismal proportions just indicate that such a tripartite attack will demand a tripartite solution.

Whilst there are visible signs of hope in Liberia that the rate of new infections there is declining rapidly and the situation seems better and stabilized, it is only clear that Liberia is just one of the three countries within the outbreak zone that is showing visible signs of palpable recovery.

It is too obvious to state that not one of these countries (not even Liberia), with a triumphant overcome over the common Ebola enemy must feel a sense of complacency that all is just over yet, until similar sense of recovery from the outbreak is enjoyed by Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Much as the three countries must not rest, so must the world not rest until the outbreak stops in all three countries. It is clear that the international, national or local efforts must continue its steadfastness in combating the outbreak and ensure that the Ebola is extinguished in all three countries, without even the smallest signs of smolders arising from the flames of this epidemic of a virus anymore.

It is not enough and fair to single out one successful possible solutions of the outbreak as a manifestation of victory in all three countries. There is still more that needs to be done and more facilities needed to stop the flow of new cases in the rural areas, urban towns and capitals of all three countries. In much the same way, these countries must say a farewell to the unsafe burial practices.

We applaud the efforts made thus far and there needs to be much more. Although the international efforts till date for financial support, technical support and the inflow of health workers are being honored, there needs to be more of these simultaneously in all three countries.

It is no doubt that the confidence of health workers must be restored again as they are often relied upon for soothing and calm reassurance in communities. It is worth the emphasis that the confidence of the health workers must be built up and their courage re-established through less fear of their intervention, and more incentive given to them. I believe that sincere efforts further needs to be stepped up, in the communities of all three countries, since these communities, as well as the local and international doctors and nurses also represent the frontline of the battle against the virus.

There must be more openness and access to communities for health workers where they are often prohibited to go and where they face in the eyes of the public visible fears of their presence. This aspects of discrimination against health workers must stop in all three countries, and they must be treated and supported as they are extra-ordinary people risking their lives, coming from near and far, both locally and internationally. In much the same way, those recovering from the Ebola virus must not be treated with stigma and fear, or else cause societal discord, and through such segregation the chances are that many who are affected will not step up to gain early treatment which could lead to more spread of the virus in the three countries.

It is also fair that Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, are not land-locked or sea-locked or sky-locked at this time to create more opportunities for emergency responses to reach the Mano River Union countries.

In the scale and magnitude of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the international community must redouble their efforts in human, financial and other needed resources. This is especially needed at this time when the needed economic, social and financial services has collapse, exacerbated by the extensive civil war years, and its legacy of poor health structures, worsened by nurses and doctors who lack the facilities needed to surmount the challenges and mount a campaign to fight against the Ebola.

There are visible signs and hope that is coming from Liberia that is recovering and this signs and hope must be a new window of opportunity to learn from the lessons in Liberia, and step-up efforts to stop the virus in all three countries.

By: Andrew Benson Greene - Jeanne Sauvé Scholar, McGill 04, ITU Fellow 11.
Founder at B-Gifted Foundation

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