31 July 2014

Liberia: Ebola - Dead Finance Official Snubbed Warning - -Health Ministry Official

Photo: Boakai Fofana/allAfrica
On the day of a nationwide disinfection exercise, anti-Ebola campaigners hit various Liberian communities.

The Assistant Minister of Preventive Services of Ministry of Health & Social Welfare has said the Ministry of Finance official who died of the Ebola virus in Lagos State, Nigeria, had left Liberia against warning not to leave. He didn't, however, state whether it was the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Finance that warned him from leaving Liberia.

The Health Official, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, was referring to Mr. Patrick Sawyer, Coordinator of the ECOWAS National Unit at the Ministry of Finance.

"Mr. Sawyer was told not to leave the country, but he left," Mr. Nyenswah disclosed on FARBRIC radio's program on the Ebola issue yesterday July 30. He called to the program.

Reports say Mr. Sawyer was in Nigeria for an official meeting when he died of Ebola.

According to official communication from the Ministry of Finance, all Finance Ministry officials who had direct or indirect contact with the late Sawyer before he departed for Nigeria have been placed on the WHO-mandated 21-day surveillance beginning from July 20, the date the diseased Finance Ministry official left Liberia for Nigeria. Mr. Nyenswah said the government has traced Mr. Sawyer's movements to where he died by speaking to authorities of Liberia's international Airport (RIA) and those of Nigeria.

However, the government had not tracked the vehicle that took Mr. Sawyer to RIA. "Here is where we erred," Mr. Nyenswah responded to the question from Mr. Christian Nelson of Radio Lib, a US-based sister radio station of FARBRIC, on whether Liberia's Ministry of Health had tracked the vehicle to prevent its contact with uninfected persons.

The person with Mr. Sawyer in the vehicle to the Airport should also be tracked.

Minister Nyenswah noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said Liberia needs about US$14M to fight the Ebola virus in the country. "This is far more than the one-point-five million dollars the Ministry had requested, which some Liberians said was too much," the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the Republic of Liberia stressed.

He admitted that the Ministry of Health genuinely appreciates the Liberian news media's partnership in the fight against the Ebola virus, but warned against politicization of the issue by the same pro-fight partner.

The Ebola virus entered Liberia, via Guinea, in March, 2014, and has killed over 125 persons in Liberia, according to official information from the Ministry of Health. Some of its victims are nurses at various hospitals, a Ugandan specialist doctor (Sam Mutooro Muhumuza) hired to contain the virus in Liberia, and, recently, a top medical doctor (Samuel Brisbane) at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. The total number of deaths for 2014's alone is 672 for West Africa--current represented by Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The number is 112 more than that of 1976, when the virus was first discovered in the Republic of Congo. By Samuel G. Dweh

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