30 July 2014

Liberia: U.S.$25 to Bury Ebola Victims

Mr. Keith Jubah, an official of Liberia's Ministry of Health & Social Welfare (MoH&SW), said the Ministry's leadership gives US$25 as daily per diem to each official appointed to bury a person who died of Ebola. There's an additional US$350 as monthly per diem for each person, besides the general salary, he explained further.

Mr. Jubah made the revelation Friday, July 25, during a casual conversation among a group of acquaintances in front of a wooden shack marked "Intellectuals United for Progress & Development (IUPAD)" in Saye Town, Sinkor.

"They pay twenty-five dollars daily for burying of Ebola person," Mr. Jubah explained to the other discussants under the IUPAD's shed against the rain at 6m on Friday.

One of the persons receiving the information told the informant the US$25 per diem is little. "That money is too small considering the millions the ministry has received and the risk to the lives of the people taking the Ebola victim to the graveyard," the guy argued with Mr. Jubah.

The Health Ministry's officials further informed his colleagues that the MoH&SW leadership instructs each of the Ministry's department to release six persons (representatives) for the removal and burial of an Ebola victim's body.

"Fighting Ebola is expensive," argued Mr. Jubah, who said he's a professional Civil Engineer, a member of MoH's Infrastructural Unit that is responsible for erecting temporary care structure for Ebola patients, and a member of the Ebola victim's burial team. "One suit a doctor wears to treat Ebola patient costs US$150."

Shortwave communication equipment for doctors working on an Ebola patient sucks different money, the MoH&SW official informed his colleagues. "You know, the doctors' entire body is covered when they are treating the Ebola patient, but they have to communicate to each other as they go on working," he explained. He didn't, however, state price of the communication equipment.

He said Ebola burial suit taken to a graveyard is buried with the dead person. "It is believed that the whole suit is contaminated with the Ebola virus," he said of the situation after the Ebola victim had been placed into the ground.

The Assistant Minister of Preventive Services of MoH&SW, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, told the New Republic July 28 he knew nothing about such information. "That is administrative information. Please speak to Mr. Matthew Flomo about that," he told this writer.

The paper couldn't reach Mr. Matthew Flomo, Deputy Minister for Administrative Services, Monday through his contact number given by Mr. Nyenswah. His mobile phone was off when this writer called (15:10GMT), and he couldn't be reached up to time of going to the press.

Again, Tuesday, yesterday (July 29), Mr. Flomo couldn't be reached through same number supplied by Mr. Nyenswah. The line was silent.

The Government of Liberia and its development partners--US Government, World Bank, African Development Bank, etc.--have pumped millions of United States dollars in the fight against the fastest-killing Ebola virus on request from the Dr. Walter Gwinegale-led Ministry of Health & Social Welfare.

This amount covers better or higher daily per diem for Liberia's health officials who risk their lives by spending long time with Ebola victims (dead) from where the virus struck them to their burial place.

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