1 September 2014

Liberia: Ellen Rejects WHO's Prediction

Photo: Liberia Government
Physician Assistant Kobbah displays a certificate of full recovery from Ebola to President Sirleaf at the ELWA Treatment Center following her release.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has rejected the World Health Organization's prediction that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people before it is brought under control.

President Sirleaf, who chairs the National Ebola Taskforce here, said her objection to the experts' prediction does not imply that her government doesn't respect them, but argued that projections could be proven wrong, especially "When one has the will and commitment to overcome a battle."

She spoke on Saturday, August 30, when she visited the C.H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata City, Margibi County, just after witnessing the discharging of a Congolese Doctor Sengo Omeoga, and a Liberian Physician Assistant, Kandy Kobah, who survived treatment at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

"I do not accept the prediction of some of the partners that say ten thousand, twenty thousand people will die, no! Say no to that. Tell them that may be, their arithmetic projection, but we will solve Ebola so that we do not have those kind of people dying. That's our challenge; that's our responsibility; that's our commitment that we must make to ourselves to prove them wrong," said the Liberian leader.

During a brief stop at the ELWA Hospital, President Sirleaf endorsed Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale's statement that Liberia will not relinquish the Ebola fight to Non-Governmental Organizations as was being suggested by some members of the public.

"There's nobody that cares more for people than the people themselves," said President Sirleaf, stressing, the fact that Liberian doctors and nurses and health practitioners are taking care of their people, it shows that "We need to give them the support so that they can continue to do the good work."

ELWA's Acting General Administrator, Jerry Brown, told President Sirleaf that on Friday, 29 August, 30 patients who were tested positive have been discharged after being treated by local health workers.

Upon the arrival of the US experimental drugs, Mr. Brown said they stopped applying the Liberian method on the three doctors that received the Zmapp; and out of the three, he said Liberian Doctor Kandy Kobah and Doctor Sengo Omeoga of the Democratic Republic of Congo, survived. But as at Saturday, August 30, Mr. Brown said about 45 cases were at ELWA, 33 of them already confirmed positive.

"And I'm optimistic that not less than half of that number will come out," he said, adding that there were 12 persons in the suspect cases section. The two doctors that were discharged - Kandy and Omeoga, thanked the government for its support and promised to continue working despite being hit by the deadly Ebola virus. Madam Kandy however pleaded with President Sirleaf for more support to health workers, including adequate supplies.

Margibi County health authorities reported 160 Ebola cases since June to the end of August. They said the county's health morale was low because 21 health workers have died from a total of 29 that were infected by the virus.

Kakata had the highest percentage of the total cases, and Dolo Town has transferred 19 cases to the treatment center since it was quarantined. Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper, says a final assessment will be made in Dolo Town, and the result will determine if a recommendation can made to the Ebola Taskforce to relax the quarantine there.

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