By Edwin Woryonwon Harris, Jr
Since March of 2014 the Mano River Basin countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) continue to struggle with the outbreak of the Ebola Virus while scores of their citizens meeting their untimely death at the hand of this fast killing virus.
In Liberia, the vast majority have been in denial until mid -July 2014,when the Liberian Government woke up to the reality that in deed this disease is deadly as the direct result of the deaths of Patrick Sawyer and Dr. Samuel Brisbane the Chief Medical Doctor of the JFK hospital. I personally applaud the Government of Liberia, International Partners and all Well-Meaning Liberians for the level of involvement in their own way to bring this epidemic to an end.
Listening to various media outlets to include electronic, print and social media, it is clear that most of our awareness are imbedded with fear. I am of the conviction that the fear factor should be removed from the campaign and the simple facts of the disease and how it can be prevented remain the primary goal of campaign messages.
We should all be reminded that fear is a contrast to hope hence; it will do us more harm when we instill fear in our people as a means of prevention. Fear in our people will only create a situation that erases hope and breeds hopelessness. Hence, we cannot succeed when those we are hoping to safe through our awareness and sensitization campaign are hopeless and have no faith that change and healing are inevitable.
The Campaign should be preventive and giving hope that if we follow the instructions and preventive tips, the virus will not only be contained but defeated thereby allowing us to move back to our normal way of Life.
Speaking to people in communities about the fear from Ebola messages and ”experts” you will sum up to the conclusion that other curable disease like malaria that is also a killer may not be attended to as some members of the public who fear that such malaria will be branded as “Ebola” could remain home and probably end up dying because of inherent fear of going to seek medical treatment at our medical centers. Health workers should also be honest and not fast concluding that other illness such as fever or malaria that are experience in huge numbers during this time (rainy season) of the year in Liberia are Ebola.
We should all be reminded that the fear factor could also ruin our economy. The majority of Liberians survive on their daily movement (hustle) and such fear could cause most of our already poverty ridden masses condition to worsen. The simple facts about Ebola should be told, that it is not an air born disease or it is not contagious but infectious. People should also know that those acutely sick with the virus should be isolated while care is given by trained medical practitioners and the corpses are not to be touch or bury in the traditional fashion we are accustomed to.
It is my hope that those in charge will see the urgent need of reducing the fear factor in the fight against Ebola while the facts and preventive tips be place at the height of the campaign.
Author: Edwin Woryonwon Harris, Jr
Duport Road, Paynesville