Stop Treating Liberia’s President Like a Hero, She’s a Human

By Dayo Olopadea

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, center, surrounded by heavy security visiting to quarantined neighborhood in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2014. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

One of the saddest stories of this year has been the death of Salome Karwah, a Liberian health worker who was featured on the cover of Time magazine as a fighter in the 2014 Ebola epidemic.

She lost most of her family to the disease. She was also infected, but she recovered to return to the clinical front lines to care for hundreds of other patients. Earlier this year in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, she died from complications of childbirth.

Her death draws new attention to the governing structure in Liberia. The scope of the dysfunction that Ebola revealed is beyond what can be chalked up simply to being a weak state in West Africa. In 2014, Nigeria logged about 18,500 face-to-face visits to stop its few Ebola cases cold. Neighboring Sierra Leone, which had a higher number of initial infections than Liberia, ultimately experienced fewer Ebola deaths.

But Liberian health systems under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected president of an African nation, were overwhelmed by the outbreak. Just 50 doctors at that time served Liberia’s 4.3 million people. Sluggish education and quarantine efforts failed because of widespread mistrust of the government, and particularly Ms. Johnson Sirleaf.

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Source: News Now/ The New York Times

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About Cholo Brooks 13195 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.