Business, Economics & Politics

Prosecute an ebola victim and stand ready to be prosecuted

Source: AFP. URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29467489. Accessed: 10/02/2014

Source: AFP. URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29467489. Accessed: 10/02/2014

There are reports that a Liberian national who flew from Liberia to the US has ebola virus disease (EVD). He arrived in the US about 2-3 weeks ago and confirmed to be infected with the deadly EVD and the Liberian government has issued a statement that he will be prosecuted because he lied to the authorities at the J.F. Kennedy International airport in Monrovia when he filled out a ‘questionnaire’ to determine whether or not he’s affected with the virus or a risk factor before departing from the country.

There are various diagnostic tests that could be carried out to determine whether or not an individual is infected with the virus (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/diagnosis/). Given that Liberia and specifically Monrovia is a hot spot for the spread of the virus, it should have been mandated that anyone flying out of the country be tested prior to their departure given them enough time to assess each traveler. This may seem too harsh, but it could have reduce the incidence of those at high risk slinking out of the country without being detected.

Upon arrival in the US in Dallas, Taxes, Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with the EVD about 2 weeks after his arrival and he’s currently in a critical state at a hospital in TX. Given the information and reports published online and released via various agencies about a Liberian citizen who brought the virus to the US, the Liberian government only response seems to be in denial casting the problem solely to the individual rather than retrospecting inwardly to determine the massive errors within the system, which is run my corruptions, greed, etc.

This highlights the government’s don’t care attitude, which continues to facilitate the indiscriminate spread of the virus. The immediate reaction of the government to prosecute a victim who is in critical state here in the US resonates with the fact that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf just doesn’t care about the value of human life in retrospect to her relationship with the Obama’s Administration. Her immediate criticism of Duncan’s current state without regard to his life demonstrates that she lacks the heart as a leader, just doesn’t care, and all she cares about is to secure her relationship with the US and anything or anyone who tries to interfere with that relationship would have to face her wrath.

Up until now, there are reports of victims not being attended to, bodies of dead victims continue to be left in public or remote places without being duly buried, images that seem to resonate with war-time settings. The Liberian government stated that Duncan lied on his questionnaire he did not have any physical contact with an infected victim. The government stated that indeed he (Duncan) did in fact had contact with an infected relative he “personally” took to an EVD treatment center in a wheelbarrow in Monrovia. The question is, if he did, wasn’t he following prior orders made by the government of Liberia and to be more specific, an order that was made by President Sirleaf herself? If he did, why didn’t they provide the necessary service(s) for him to be isolated after taking his relative at a treatment center? Why did they allow him to leave without following the ‘system put in place’ even if there is a system in place? What was the system in place for someone who wants their relative taken to an EVD treatment center? If a system was in place, why did Duncan follow through by taking his infected relative? Well, the answer to the last question relates back to reports that health workers several weeks ago were no where around to do their job because they themselves fear death. If everything remain constant, why weren’t health workers available to take his infected relative to a treatment center and he had to risk his life?

The government can argue that they will have him prosecuted because he lied on his questionnaire. Well, the claim you made that he personally had physical contact with an infected relative was conditioned on the fact that he had no alternatives, because there may have been no health workers around, thus prompting him to risk his own life to take his infected relative to a treatment center.

If Ellen is serious to prosecute Duncan, she must put in place rigorous measures to handle the problem instead of casting blames on others and using threats to make people to submit to her call.

It is not surprising that as many as 1400 Liberians have perished from Ebola and hundreds more new cases reported. The Liberian healthcare system was massively destroyed during the country’s bloody 14-year senseless and nonsensical civil war, which left approximately 500,000 dead plus thousands scattered in refugee camps across the sub-region. In 2003, peace, security, and stability were restored to Liberia after immense efforts by the UN, the international community, EU, ECOWAS, AU, INGOs and other stakeholders, which included the various warring factions. After Ellen was elected President of Liberia, her government was faced [and continue to face] with several challenges, constraints and massive opportunities (the influx of aid organizations, NGOs, etc) plus investments portfolios offers from various governments and investment institutions. Most of the money became used by officials who flew overseas into merrymaking and drove fancy cars, plus a government rampantly engage in public corruption, abuse of power, nepotistic behaviors, favoritism, etc., while underestimating the true and legitimate needs of the Liberian populace [not only those in Monrovia], as Monrovia continue to be the epicenter of development focus. Investment portfolios, donations, international aid and resources became the ‘water-pool’ of wealth for fewer people in her inner circle usually the ‘elite’, while the ‘rest’ of the Liberian people have to seek their livelihoods at the margins of the society.

Today, these ill-governance practices, corruption, lies, nepotistic behaviors and engagements and lack of focus have led to and paved the way for the outbreak of indiscriminate spread of the EVD. This is the real culprit of the virus continuous spread and until Ellen turned inwardly and put herself together and ask some real fundamental questions why is this happening, how can it be addressed, what needs to be done NOW and stop blaming others for a failed government policies and practices, the continuous spread of EVD would not be easily stopped and she would be a legitimate candidate to be prosecuted by the Liberian people. In Liberia we usually say, ‘time will tell.’ It is just a matter of time for this to happen and she still has time to revert the spread of the virus and the first step in that process is stepping aside as the person responsible for spearheading the task force against EVD to someone trustworthy and focusing her remaining energy of her life and administration to governance, transparency, accountability, and trying to regain the trust of the Liberian people.

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