The Foundation For International Dignity (FIND) has described the Ebola virus outbreak in the country as a national calamity and argued that the government is still moving slow in combating the virus.
FIND Executive Director Roosevelt A.K. Woods
Woods said though the government has made some initial efforts, it needs to step up the pace to respond to the needs of health workers who seem to be fleeing public health centers because they lack safety materials.
Last week President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the country’s national action plan, with series of measures, and committed an initial US$5 million to combat the deadly virus that has claimed over 200 lives across the country.
“Things are still moving slow since the President spoke,” FIND Executive Director Roosevelt A.K. Woods told a press conference in Monrovia Tuesday. You need to act, government needs to act fast now; let them release the money to fight the Ebola virus.”
Woods said this was no time for the government to keep in place its usual bureaucratic regimes while fighting a deadly virus that has evaded the country, and claimed at last 200 lives.
He stated that the government needed to provide more ambulances, protective gears and other logistics for health care workers to enhance the fight of the rapidly spreading killer disease.
Calling on all Liberians to get involved as the virus doesn’t pick and choose its victims, Woods said more people were dying across the country because the response and awareness have been slow, while health workers were staying away because of the lack equipment and protective materials.
FIND is among several institutions and individuals that have made donations including buckets and disinfectants to communities and groups to help fight and prevent the virus.
Headquartered in Gbarnga, Bong County, FIND recently donated assorted items to the police and prison to help them combat the virus, but lamented that major referral hospital and Bong and Lofa remain closed.
This situation, Woods told journalists, is having a deadly effect on citizens and causing more deaths. “People are dying from other sicknesses other than Ebola. They get sick from common headache and there is no one to treat them because those working at these hospitals have to stay away because they have no protective gears. Government needs to do something t stop this ugly situation.”
Woods said the government needs to encourage health care workers by providing additional training for them in combating Ebola, giving them better incentives and insurance, besides providing safety materials and logistics including vehicles and ambulances to quickly respond to emergency situations.
Despite his criticism, Woods recognized the initial role played by the Liberian Government in announcing a national action plan. “We want to laud the government for the initial steps, and the awareness is making some impact, but we need to go beyond just pronouncement.”
Among several others, the President announced the closure of all schools in the country, restricted government travels and directed that all non-essential staff of Ministries and agencies of government take a month-long compulsory leave. Friday, August 1, was declared a non-working day used for the disinfection and chlorination of all public facilities. All, borders, except major ones, have been ordered closed, while the eating of bush meat is prohibited.