It is clear that the world is gripped by a global public health emergency. Nations around the world are trying to figure out how to deal with the crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has left healthcare systems all over the world in shamble and continues to overwhelm the world most advanced countries and their healthcare systems. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, it is also equally leaving disproportionate impacts on the world’s most vulnerable population, amongst whom, are the poor and vulnerable in Africa.
The speed of the pandemic also underscores our global world connectivity. It is clear that COVID-19 does not respect borders and titles. Many health experts believe that the strain of coronavirus we are dealing with likely originated in bats or pangolins. The first transmission to humans was in Wuhan, China. Since then, the virus has mostly spread through person-to-person contact. Therefore, what affects Liberians COVID-19 victims, will eventually impact other Africans and world population.
What is Liberian government COVID-19 Plan: The government has imposed a number of measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus including the following:
- Banned travelers coming from countries with at least 200 confirmed coronavirus cases.
- Public sector employees whose roles are not essential have been placed on compulsory leave and the banding of non-essential government travels
- All citizens and residents are urged to avoid public gathering and advised to keep a minimum social distance of at least six feet from people with fever, cough, sneezing, and difficulty in breathing.
- Ordered temporary closure of all schools. These policies have resulted into several churches and mosques announcing a temporary suspension of their normal activities.
- Additionally, the government on April 29, 2020 held a meeting in Ganta city which resulted in the identification of three major possible sites, including the old WHO site in to be used to quarantine possible COVID-19 Victims.
When news of the government proposed response to the virus, was made public, it triggered series of emergency virtual meetings among Liberians, both in Liberia and in the diasporas, following up meetings continue including the meeting of citizens of the remote village of Kpein , located in Nimba County, Liberia. The contents of these meetings are centered around the government plan to utilize non-medical facilities as well as the old “WHO” research site as a holding or quarantine site for COVID-19 victims.
These citizens have organized themselves to create awareness around the world, hoping to gain the attention of President George M. Weah on his cruel, unscientific and unusual response to the pandemic. According to the citizens and natives born of Kpein many of whom reside in the United States, the Liberian government is preparing to relocated coronavirus victims to remote locations, some of which were constructed in the 1950s.
The site for example, was built as a test and research site for malaria control 1955. The site in question has no electricity, running water, no hospital equipment and no history of medical practices for over 60 years and would be considered a death sentence of coronavirus victims; who will be forced into isolation from all over the country and confined at this location.
Liberians around the world are condemning the proposed move by the government as cruel and inhuman and therefore, we are calling on the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (EC0WAS), human rights Organizations and world bodies to condemn the move.
The History of World Health Organization (WHO) and the test site: In the early 1950s and encouraged by the early success of using dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) against malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) embarked on the Global Malaria Eradication Program (GMEP) beginning1955. The government of Liberia made available as a test site.
WHO utilized this site as one of Africa test centers; the center was located in Nimba County. However, fourteen years later, the campaign was discontinued, when it was discovered that malaria eradication was not achievable within a specified timeframe, although the long-term goal of WHO remained unchanged. Many years, later, shows to local benefit, and the project left multiple resultant undetermined impacts on the village of and its people.
What is concerning to the citizenry of today is the fear of becoming a second victim again; as such they are questioning the motive of the Liberian government. Recommendation:
- The government should design and initiate a national strategy for COVID-19 victims to include:
- Tracking and understanding the spread of the virus
- Ensuring patients get the care they need and
- Enduring frontline workers get essential supplies
- Providing information that ensure a system is in place for rapid response
- Accelerating a standard for testing and treatments
- Creating a standard facility to address COVID-19 treatment
- Avoidance of old age facilities like the “WHO” broken down structures; which has not been utilized for over sixty(60) years such as the one in Kpein , Nimba County to isolate victim