Sunday May 10, 2015
- Liberia is now Ebola-free and President Sirleaf and the people
celebrate. It has been a good fight, a fight that often
witnessed strained relations between the Liberian leader and the
people. In the end they won and we join the international
community in congratulating the people of Liberia for a job well
These opening lines on the website of the World Health
Organisation, the WHO, said it all. The hopes and aspirations of
the people of Liberia in the battle against the deadly, vicious
and treacherous killer diseases appears to have been won. The
headline stated and we quote with a sense of pride that would be
running through the people - "The Ebola outbreak in Liberia is
"Today, 9 May 2015, WHO declares Liberia free of Ebola virus
transmission. Forty-two days have passed since the last
laboratory-confirmed case was buried on 28 March 2015. The
outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over.
of transmission is a monumental achievement for a country that
reported the highest number of deaths in the largest, longest,
and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976. At
the peak of transmission, which occurred during August and
September 2014, the country was reporting from 300 to 400 new
cases every week.
During those 2 months, the capital city
Monrovia was the setting for some of the most tragic scenes from
West Africa’s outbreak: gates locked at overflowing treatment
centres, patients dying on the hospital grounds, and bodies that
were sometimes not collected for days. Flights were cancelled.
Fuel and food ran low. Schools, businesses, borders, markets,
and most health facilities were closed.
Fear and uncertainty
about the future, for families, communities, and the country and
its economy, dominated the national mood.
It is a tribute to the
government and people of Liberia that determination to defeat
Ebola never wavered, courage never faltered. Doctors and nurses
continued to treat patients, even when supplies of personal
protective equipment and training in its safe use were
inadequate. Altogether, 375 health workers were infected and 189
lost their lives."
This is a part of the statement by the
White House Press Secretary
on this important milestone in the fight against the Ebola Virus
"We congratulate the people of Liberia on
reaching this important marker, and once again pledge our
commitment to ending the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and
helping to rebuild Liberia and other affected nations.
As President Obama said when Liberian President Ellen Johnson
Sirleaf visited the White House last month, “We’re proud to
partner with you and we intend to see this through until the job
While this milestone is important, the world must not forget
that the Ebola outbreak still persists in neighboring Sierra
Leone and Guinea. We must not let down our guard until the
entire region reaches and stays at zero Ebola cases. And we must
all work together to strengthen capacity around the world to
prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to outbreaks before they
However being declared Ebola-free though welcomed is not a time
for complacency as
the Uganda experience shows just how
treacherous and wily the virus can be as it tries to
re-establish itself in unsuspecting victims and communities.
This is the time for Liberians to be more vigilant, extra
vigilant we would add given the porous borders of the country
with Sierra Leone and Guinea still battling to control and
overcome the scourge.
The WHO statement is all too aware of the
dangers of complacency. "The government is fully aware of the
need to remain on high alert and has the experience, capacity,
and support from international partners to do so. WHO will
maintain an enhanced staff presence in Liberia until the end of
the year as the response transitions from outbreak control, to
vigilance for imported cases, to the recovery of essential
The World Health Organisation has listed a number of factors
that contributed to the success of Liberia's response. Among
them and first and foremost - "the leadership shown by President
Sirleaf, who regarded the disease as a threat to the nation’s
“economic and social fabric” and made the response a priority
for multiple branches of government. Her swift and sometimes
tough decisions, frequent public communications, and presence at
outbreak sites were expressions of this leadership."
"Second, health officials and their partners were quick to
recognize the importance of community engagement.
understood that community leadership brings with it well-defined
social structures, with clear lines of credible authority. Teams
worked hard to win support from village chiefs, religious
leaders, women’s associations, and youth groups.
One of the
first signs that the outbreak might be turned around appeared in
September 2014, when cases in Lofa county, Ebola’s initial
epicentre, began to decline after a peak of more than 150 cases
a week in mid-August. Epidemiologists would later link that
decline to a package of interventions, with community engagement
playing a critical role."
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was the first leader of the
three most affected countries to declare a state of emergency in
dealing with the threat but she did not use it for political
purposes to suppress free speech and dissent, as she lifted it
as soon as she noticed a decline in the number of new infections
- a sign that the battle could well be on the way to be won.
UK-based Daily Mail has this - "Sirleaf declared the emergency
regime on August 6, speaking of "a clear and present danger"
from Ebola, which at the time had claimed around 1,000 lives
across west Africa. She said the relaxation was "not because the
fight against Ebola is over" but because recent successes in
battling the epidemic had combined "to reposition our efforts to
sustain our fight against the virus".
Sirleaf added that Liberia had acted "decisively" by imposing
tough new regulations on closing borders, imposing curfews and
quarantines, shutting schools and restricting public gatherings.
Official figures show Ebola has claimed more than 5,100 lives
across west Africa -- 2,836 of them in hardest-hit Liberia --
with the real death toll thought to be up to three times higher.
But the Liberian government said this week new cases had dropped
from a daily peak of more than 500 to around 50, confirming
tentative announcements by experts worldwide of an apparent
To summarise - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia
declared the state of emergency on August 6, 2014 and lifted it
on Thursday 13th November. One
news outlet had this
on the decision of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to lift the
state of emergency -
"Liberia has lifted a state of emergency
imposed for its "very survival" three months ago as the deadly
Ebola virus was cutting a swathe through the west African
nation. The announcement - the clearest sign yet that the
country believes it is beating an epidemic which has claimed
nearly 3,000 Liberian lives - follows a dramatic recent drop in
"I have informed the leadership of the national legislature that
I will not seek an extension of the state of emergency,"
president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said.
Ms Sirleaf announced the
emergency regime on August 6, speaking of "a clear and present
danger" from Ebola, which at the time had claimed about 1,000
lives across west Africa. Parliament had been due to discuss
extending the order, originally envisaged as a three-month
measure, before Ms Sirleaf's intervention.
Ms Sirleaf said the
relaxation was "not because the fight against Ebola is over" but
because recent successes in battling the epidemic had combined
"to reposition our efforts to sustain our fight against the
virus". She added that Liberia had acted "decisively" by
imposing tough new regulations closing borders, imposing curfews
and quarantines, shutting schools and restricting public
In neighbouring Sierra Leone, in the fiefdom of the rat the
state of emergency continues as it provides the appropriate tool
for the repression and persecution of perceived political opponents.
Media outlets that refuse to tow the falsehood of the rat and
his cronies face discrimination, denial of paid adverts and are
generally perceived as the "enemy of state" linked to the