The people of Liberia and the West African region face an existential threat. The threat has implications beyond the sub-region and the African continent. The Ebola crisis constitutes a threat to international peace and security. It is far past time for the world community to step up its engagement from a “public health emergency of international concern” to a Chapter Seven Mandate to “Deliver as One.”
The evidence of the threat is abundant since the Ebola outbreak began making headlines worldwide a few months ago – the unfolding drama in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea with the decimation of large population segments, destruction of cherished human values, human insecurity on an unprecedented scale, including the absence of medical attention to non-Ebola ailments. Add to this the potential that if unchecked in time the virus could mutate, become transmissible and present a clearer and more present danger. Already some have begun to speak of a shift from linear growth to exponential, citing possibilities of 20,000 to 100,000 casualties in the months immediately ahead.
There is no math to the roads of Logan Town in Monrovia. In Logan Town, a name that sounds like “Lukin” when spoken with the northern Liberian accent of most of my relatives, the front of a cement house may face the side of another. Two back yards may serve as necessary borders for a make-shift zinc house. This asymmetry is what makes the middle-class neighborhoods of Monrovia and their residents as married as they are. Laughter is a group art, tears are just as intertwined and there are plenty of Ol’ Mas in the pot to choose from.
Now, I normally don’t waste my time responding to stupidity. But, just this once, I’m going to take […]
How can you prosecute a man hanging on a lifeline from an infectious disease? According to news reports published last week, that’s precisely what Liberia vowed to do to Thomas Eric Duncan — the first patient diagnosed with Ebola while on US soil — if he ever made it back to the country. Duncan died on Wednesday from Ebola related complications.
His tragic demise should represent a prick on the conscience of those who threatened prosecution. This is the same kind of insensitive scaremongering that has driven people underground, afraid to cooperate with authorities. With more than 3,000 Ebola-related deaths reported, double the number of infections and no indication of the outbreak abating any time soon, inflammatory statements about criminalizing Ebola only make matters worse.
Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president has led for nearly a decade now, but it took the Ebola virus epidemic to reveal how fragile, how unprepared, and how vulnerable her leadership has left the Liberian people. In all of those years, there has been no adequate health services, no serious educational system, no adequate roads in most parts of the country, no electricity or water to most of Monrovia, and all of this despite international aid, foreign investment and new trade contracts. Without adequate schools, hospitals, roads, electricity or water to metropolitan Monrovia, how can Liberia protect its citizens, monitor infected persons, quarantine suspected cases or even educate the people about the catastrophic dangers of the virus? If the lack of these necessary resources were the only problem, then many could have been spared.