West AFrica fights an unknown enemy

August 8, 2014


Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak update - West Africa under attack by Ebola

The President of Liberia declared a “national state of emergency” for a period of 90 days, effective August 6th. The declaration requires approval from the nation's House of Representatives and a concurrence by the Senate. The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, according to the president, is now beyond a single government capacity to deal with. This is due in part to entrenched traditional norms, poverty and misinformation that have hampered the work of emergency workers, government agencies and partners to adequately deal with the outbreak.  She President warned that during the state of emergency, “certain rights and privileges of citizens may be suspended,” as the government struggles to restrict the movement of people from counties affected and to enforce strict burial protocols for those who have died as a result of the virus.

Given Liberia’s past violent history, a state of emergency may likely be misused by some. Some are now voicing concerns about how government will manage rogue elements within the security forces, as those charged with the protection of citizens have in the past committed atrocities against innocent people.

According to NGOs sources and workers traveling in the field, roadblocks have been set up along highways of several rural counties including Lofa, Bomi, and Grand Cape Mount. Grand Bassa County has also instituted Ebola screening checkpoints along its highways. A three-day fast and prayer is ongoing across cities and towns as citizens seek divine intervention for the country.

The death rate now stands at more than 280 (MOH sitrep) for Liberia alone. More than a 1,000 have died across the four West Africa countries affected by the EVD outbreak including Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria (WHO).

President Goodluck of Nigeria has declared a national state of emergency and committed $11m US dollars to fight the disease (BBC). The World Health Organization (WHO) has also declared the EVD outbreak as an international health emergency (Reuters).


More than $260m US dollars in funding has been made available by the World Bank and the African Development Bank in the fight against the Ebola virus. The question now is, when will this money reach the affected countries and begin to make a positive impact in the lives of the majority poor communities, who bear the greatest burden of suffering and death.



Lastest Updates


President of Liberia has announced new stringent measures tonight:
In an emergency address tonight to the nation, the President of Liberia ordered the following measures, without exceptions:

  • All schools are ordered closed pending further directive from the Ministry of Education.
  • All markets at border areas including Foyah, Bo Waterside, and Ganta are hereby ordered closed until further notice.
  • As previously directed, video clubs and entertainment centers must have improved sanitation including facilities for the washing of hands prior to entering and exiting as well as to restrict opening hours, and the number of individuals permitted to enter those facilities.
  • Friday, August 1st has been declared a non-working day in order to sanitize and disinfect public facilities of work.
  • Non-essential staff of Ministries and Agencies of Government will be sent on a compulsory 30 day leave.
  • Profiteers are warned to desist from raising prices of essential commodities needed in the fight against Ebola and from profiteering from materials intended to aid the public.
  • An additional $5m USD is being made available for the emergency to be funded through a MOH &WHO National Action Plan


Liberia races against time to curb Ebola Outbreak


July 30, 2014


Monrovia: - Several new deaths have been reported across various counties that have been impacted by the Ebola outbreak and around Monrovia.  A total of 129 deaths have been reported to date across Liberia alone (SiteRep). Neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone also reported new cases and deaths this week. The mood of the Liberian nation is a mix of confusion and quiet-panic. Several national government officials are said to have canceled a planned trip to the USA to deal with the national emergency.


Two American citizens, Doctor Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, who have been working with the ELWA Hospital at the outskirts of Monrovia have been infected and are currently under quarantine for treatment. They are in a struggle for their lives. Two prominent Liberians: a WASH Consultant, Patrick Sawyer, working with the Ministry of Finance also died in Nigeria last week after contracting the virus from a family member, according to media reports and a head Medical Doctor, Dr. Samuel Brisbane, at JFK Memorial Hospital in Monrovia has also died.

A national health emergency has been declared and an emergency Task Force is tasked with coordinating government response to the outbreak, which some critiques say, has been slow act.

Border crossings have been ordered closed by the national government. However, major points-of-entry (Roberts International Airfield -ROB, Springs Payne Airfield, Foyah Crossing, Bo Waterside and Ganta Crossing), remain open. Government has instituted preventive and testing measures to curtail spreading of the virus at these points of entry and exit.

Ebola crosings

The Ministry of Finance where the WASH consultant worked has taken precautionary measures to close down the ministry to ensure disinfestation and cleaning of their facilities. According to a reliable source, the Minister of Finance himself is well and kicking. He was even seen today (7/30/14) at a GOL coordination meeting at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Congo Town.

The General Services Agency also announced the closing down of the agency for one month and its director has instructed staff to remain home until further notice (FPA).  The Liberia Football Association has announced the suspension of football matches to avoid the exchange of bodily fluids, which can spread the virus.

According to our source from the coordination meeting, treatment and quarantine facilities have been set up in three counties, mainly Monsterrado (Monrovia), Lofa County and recently in Ganta, Nimba County.

Some frustrated health workers have threatened to boycott work if they are not given their due compensation. Some have reportedly abandoned work at ELWA Hospital. The hospital facility has reportedly been under intense pressure with new cases coming in daily. The already over-crowded and under-staff facility could no longer cater to any new cases.
Doctors without Borders or MSF has expressed concerns over security threats in Foyah, Lofa County as some local people are still resisting the taking and burying of their love ones who may have died from the virus. The Samaritan Purse NGO has pulled out of the Case Management and treatment mechanism in both Foyah and Voinjama due to the lack of capacity. It seems to be a real struggle out there for doctors and nurses.

The US Embassy in Monrovia held a town hall meeting with its citizens on Tuesday in downtown Monrovia and told them that the outbreak has not reached the kind of critical level that would require evacuation.

Travel has also been greatly impacted. Regional Airlines, ARIK Air and ASKY have stopped flying to Liberia and Sierra for the time being amid fears of the outbreak. Gambia Bird has also announced a similar move as the Gambian Government (as reported in FPA on 30/7/14) has instructed airlines operating out of Gambia not to pick up passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

International NGOs operating in Liberia continue to closely monitor the situation and have advised their staff to observe sanitary measure. Travel outside of Monrovia into rural Liberia is now a dreaded undertaken. Also given the psychological fear the outbreak has caused amongst the populations, program implementation across several of the counties has been affected. Staff are reported to be freaking out and panic is looming. Transportation challenges continue to pose an obstacle to effective field monitoring of field work.

There is no vaccine at this time that can cure the Ebola virus; however, early detection, quarantine and treatment have proven to increase chances of survival. Contact with people suspected of infection is not advised.

Liberia is need of a miracle, literally! We are appealing to the International Community, including the United States and agencies like the CDC, the EU and other partners to quickly take measures to help with the quarantine and treatment of suspected patients as doctors on the ground are overwhelmed.

The nation needs trained doctors, nurses, sanitary equipment, setting-up of quarantine facilities in counties impacted, awareness campaign materials, among other things.

Please act now before this Ebola outbreak gets out of hand!
If you like to help, please contact thevoiceofliberia@gmail.com