The New Dawn (Monrovia)

28 July 2014

Liberia: Ellen Chairs Ebola Taskforce

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has established a national taskforce on Ebola to work with the health team of Liberia in fighting the deadly disease in the country.

Last week health authorities said Ebola had killed 129 victims out of 249 cases, including medical doctors, nurses and patients, majority of them women.

In her remark at Liberia's 167th Independence Day Anniversary ceremonies at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia, President Sirleaf called for national effort to reach across borders and join neighboring countries that are affected to ensure continuing common response.

"This is why today, I'm establishing a national taskforce on Ebola which I will chair, to be co-chaired by the Minister of Internal Affairs in his role as the chairman of the National Disaster and Relief Commission," said President Sirleaf.

She says women and youth organizations, the Inter-religious Council, market and labor organizations, political parties' leaders, traditional leaders and the Press Union of Liberia will be called to send representatives to serve on the taskforce on Ebola. The President says the main duty of the taskforce is to provide support and guidance for the health team.

Additionally, President Sirleaf announced that a "Community Outreach Force" will be established with individuals mobilized from each community to sensitize and provide information about the disease, specifically on how community dwellers can protect themselves.

She extended "personal and official sympathy" to the families of all those affected and afflicted by the virus, including the National Health Team and health workers for their loss, and committed government's obligation to respond to them in their time of need.

At the same time, President Sirleaf has sent a strong warning that government will not accept individuals burning buildings and attacking health workers, while recalling a recent arson against the Health Ministry in Congo Town.

"On Wednesday [July 23], we witnessed the unthinkable when a man... after his sister died of Ebola decided to revenge by setting fire to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. This is how damaging this virus has become. This is how the risk and the danger now go beyond the virus," she said. She warned that government understands the anger, but it "cannot and will not" accept burning buildings and attacking health care workers or facilities.

President Sirleaf says due to indiscipline and disrespect for health workers' advises here, one of Liberia's [expatriate] Dr. Sam Mutooro Muhumuza, a Ugandan surgeon met his untimely death recently in Monrovia, and put to risk others across borders.

She urged citizens to show a strong sense of nationalism, in spite of political or religious differences.

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