20 August 2014

Liberia: 'Fix Media Mess' - Broh Denies Journalists to Ebola Center

Photo: Capital FM
Social media is "the only thing that is keeping us together, that is keeping us connected.," IT professional Caesar Morris said.

Monrovia — As the deadly Ebola Virus continues to claim the lives of Liberians, a group of journalists, including FrontPageAfrica went to the National Task Force Ebola call center situated in the compound of the General Services Agency (GSA) on a fact finding mission to see the level of work that was being done there and the effectiveness of the response team to call from Liberians.

In recent times there have been accusations that the call center managed by former Monrovia City Mayor now Director-General of the GSA, Mary T. Broh, has been slow to respond to the public's cry for help, thereby prompting the journalist's inquiry.

But as soon as the journalists approached the gate and introduced themselves, one of the security officers who was sitting down in a plastic chair with one foot over the chair's arm said the place is off limit to the media.

"We were told not to let journalists in here. Please call the PRO for more information," said a security guard, locking the revolving steel gate in front of the journalists. The journalists then took turns to place calls to Madam Broh who sent one of her assistants to tell them that the Director-General had mandated the securities not to allow journalists in.

As the man was in conversation with the journalists, Madam Broh emerged, walked up to the journalists and said: "Hello, how may I help you?" "We came to see you Madam," one of the journalists, Francis Nah said. Madam Broh then reiterated what the other messengers had been saying.

"I am not allowing any journalists in here, go and fix the mess that is in the international media. Go and tell Sekou Kanneh and Solomon George to stop talking the kind of nonsense they are talking," said Madam Broh. Madam Broh then got into her vehicle and drove away saying she was on her way to buy jackets for her staff.

The GSA compound has been used as the base of the call center since it was set up to help Liberians make distress calls to people in authority in order to get help in the wake of the deadly Ebola virus. But the center has not been responsive enough as some Liberians have come to find out.

In a release issued on Sunday the opposition Liberty Party called for reform in the operations of the task force including the call center. 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.

On Tuesday the Plenary of the House of Representatives sitting expressed optimism that on Thursday, August 21, the Health committee headed by Bong County Representative Corpu Barclay, will make its first report on the floor on the deadly outbreak. The Committee is to provide information to the house's plenary on the impact of the Ebola Task Force, in the process of fighting the Ebola Virus disease.

The august body last week mandated its Committee on Health and Social Welfare to work along with the National Task Force set-up to deal with the deadly Ebola Virus Disease and provide a weekly update on the day to day activities in the fight against the Ebola epidemic. The body's reminder comes in the wake of a communication written by Grand Bassa County Representative, Byron Brown, requesting Members of the House to invite the Ministry of Health and Social welfare.

The Senate has also concurred with the House of Representatives on its request regarding "Emergency Spending Authority" to enable the government deal with the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus in Liberia.


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