FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

19 August 2014

Liberia: Opposition Liberty Party Calls for Rigorous Ebola Task Force

Monrovia — The opposition Liberty Party has offered a number of suggestions National Task Force on Ebola working to contain the deadly Ebola virus.

The party in a statement released on Monday stated that it wants the government to be more aggressive in publicizing the existence of the National Ebola Task Force's Command Center and create similar centers at the county level for the management of the national effort to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.

"The Command Center and every county center should be manned 24/7, perhaps using those "non-essential" government workers who have been furloughed," stated the LP release.

Continued the LP: "The Command Center should more effectively manage the National Ebola Task Force's response, include coordinating the deployment of healthcare materials and supplies and other resources and receiving and attending to Ebola-related calls and information."

The party stated that the current call system as operated is certainly not working, as the public continues to express frustration about calls not being answered and about the National Ebola Task Force's slow response to situations of the outbreak including the picking up of dead bodies.

It stated that the command centers (national and local) should also map out Ebola incidences nationwide. Thus, the party says will help the coordination of the command-center approach and would greatly improve the efficiency of the National Ebola Task Force.

The LP wants the Task Force to present to the public a comprehensive plan on how the National Ebola Task Force intends to contain and eventually eradicate Ebola, including the specific efforts/organizations at the community level, and what is expected of community-based organizations and individual citizens.

"This would enable the public to understand the entire process and take ownership of it. Limited results are obtained by only giving orders to the public without fully explaining the reasoning, purpose and benefits of following those orders," states the party.

Continued LP: "Designate and notify the public through a single point of contact at the national and county levels. These individuals would be the National Ebola Task Force's spokespersons who will officially provide all Ebola-related information and updates to the public. The information provided by these individuals should be made available to the public in English and the various Liberian dialects utilizing both national and community-based radio stations."

The party wants the government to synchronize its information provision on the Ebola Virus including official spokespersons. "The public currently receives Ebola-related information from multiple sources, including the Minister of Information, the Assistant Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Minister Tolbert Nyensuah, and sometimes the Minister of Defense," stated the party.

The LP stated that the continued provision of information to the public through multiple, uncoordinated sources, exposes the public to receiving conflicting information and creating unnecessary fear and panic.

"Conflicting information or delayed actions on the part of the National Ebola Task Force erodes the people's confidence and trust in their government's capacity and capability. This lack of trust may do more harm and result in unnecessary deaths," stated the party.

"Provide formal daily press briefings to update the public and media, speaking to key issues including, but not limited to, the following: Government's expectation concerning actions to be taken by the public to help prevent the spread of the virus. Ebola infection trends, including new cases, locations, treatment efforts, etc."

The party stated that information should be given in a concise, standardized way so it is easy to understand and disseminate using all forms of media and stressed that sincere, accurate, timely and transparent dissemination of information by the National Ebola Task Force will help reduce the fear, anxiety and rumors that currently persist in the country.

"The international response to date, including a number of medical and public health officials received, partners providing assistance, and gaps in the national response efforts (if any) and what the team is doing to fill those gaps," stated the LP.

"Type and the quantity of health care, Ebola-fighting materials and supplies and other resources, received or appropriated by the Government, and how and when they are distributed and utilized throughout the country."

The party's suggestion comes, as there have been rumors and conflicting reports in both the local and international media regarding the spread and impact of the Ebola Virus on Liberia, as well as the handling of the crisis by the government. The party believes that such rumors and associated confusion are counterproductive to the unified effort that is needed to succeed in the fight against the deadly virus.

"Liberty Party believes that many of such rumors and attending confusion can be eliminated, or at least minimized, if the public were to receive formal, consistent, and timely information from the National Ebola Task Force regarding its programs, approach, progress, and status of the fight against Ebola. This is currently not the case," stated the Party in a release issued on Sunday.

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