There are five positive things you must know that Liberia’s efforts to address the Ebola crisis reinforces in the nation.
Though more can be observed and recorded, these are the most important happenings that have gripped my attention.
1. Personal hygiene and sanitation.
Liberians, in most homes and public places, are continuing the regular practice of hand washing; it has become a personal hygiene practice to them.
We can hope that the practice will become a habit once the threat of Ebola has passed.
Most of the people have started cleaning up their communities to protect themselves from environmental diseases.
Foods are cooked well and secured from germs that may cause other sicknesses.
Meanwhile, wells and hand pumps that were exposed to air pollution now have covers to protect the water as a way of maintaining personal hygiene and sanitation.
People are chlorinating their drinking and cooking water in most communities.
2. Spacious seats in commercial and private vehicles.
Prior to the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia, our government, through the Ministry of Transportation, had mandated all taxi drivers to only accept three passengers in the back seat and one passenger in the front seat.
This instruction was not adhered to by commercial and private drivers.
Not until the Ebola outbreak became serious, and the public was informed that Ebola spreads through bodily contact that those drivers saw the rationale to obey this traffic rule because their lives were at risk, too.
Presently, passengers are jubilating over the abrupt adjustment of the seating capacity in commercial and private vehicles. They are now comfortably seated in a taxi or a bus.
For the last four months, taxis have been less crowded in Monrovia. We can hope that the practice will continue after Ebola is eradicated from Liberia.
3. Restrictions at Liberia’s neighboring borders.
Liberia shares borders with three West African countries – Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. In the last few years, there were reports of less security at some major entry points into Liberia.
For example, there have been repeated cases of unscrupulous travelers attempting to enter our country with secret weapons and other illegal goods. This claimed the attention of the Liberian people.
However, due to the outbreak of Ebola, the government of Liberia has started addressing the issue of the security system at our country’s entry points.
A few months ago, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered the closures of most of our borders.
“All borders of Liberia will be closed with the exception of major entry points,” she said in a statement.
Furthermore, she said, “A new policy by the Liberia Airport Authority covering inspection and testing of all outgoing and incoming passengers will be strictly observed.”
The president’s statements came in the wake of Ebola’s atrocities in Liberia. Preventive measures are being implemented to contain the spread of the virus, which have allowed Liberia to maintain a continued reduction on the outbreak of Ebola.
Drastic measures are also taken against trespassers, such as illegal drug dealers and secret weapons carriers, are being handled by the government of Liberia.
4. Restoration of Liberia’s health system.
The healthcare system of Liberia had been damaged since the civil war, which took place from 1989 through 2003. Public and private hospitals and clinics were looted and burned down during the war.
Moreover, the country’s only referral hospital, John F. Kennedy Medical Health Center, located in the capital city of Monrovia, was known to have only one ambulance for sick patients before the Ebola epidemic.
There were limited medical resources in the country until the time Ebola first hit Liberia.
Therefore, health workers were afraid initially to risk their lives because of the lack of protective gear to fight against Ebola.
Thankfully, there have been sufficient distributions of personal protective equipment to health workers as well as the construction of Ebola treatment units is still ongoing in most parts of Liberia.
5. Growth in churches’ morning devotions.
Liberians are now attending religious morning devotions conducted at churches in most communities to thank God for the present status of Liberia. The morning devotion usually starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m.
In addition to spiritual awakening, churches are also hosting revivals and crusades.
With the continuation of these practices, not only can we fight against Ebola and other diseases in Liberia, but also continue to rebuild our nation. This is my fervent prayer for Liberians.
Fayiah S. Tamba is a senior student at Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary in Paynesville City, a region of Monrovia, Liberia. He is from Foya in Lofa County, Liberia.