Liberia Pressured To Back Off from All-Out Ebola Fight, While an Outbreak Threatens in Nearby Mali

November 14, 2014

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced Thursday that she would not extend the state of emergency she had declared in August in response to the then sky-rocketing rate of increase of Ebola infections. She has now come under pressure from financial fund managers advising her to scale back the emergency construction of Ebola Treatment Units (ETU), and instead adopt the approach of establishing a trouble-shooting capability to send emergency forces to Ebola hot spots as they are detected. Liberia has been the worst-affected victim of the disease, so far.

At the same time, the U.S. military deployment to Liberia has announced they will cut back their troop deployment to build ETUs, from 4,000 troops to 3,000.

These developments justify the assessment that the Obama Administration, the UK in Sierra Leone, and France in Guinea are intervening only to keep the Ebola crisis to what they consider a manageable level, without making a commitment to develop the health care infrastructure and physical infrastructure (water resources for hygiene, sewers, etc.) which are necessary to treat and control the disease, and dramatically reduce the future susceptibility to disease.

The move against ETUs is being justified by a purported lower number of victims in Monrovia, Liberia. However, many people do not come for treatment, because they consider the treatment centers death camps, due to the high rate of deaths among those who go there. And this leaves out of the picture the infection and high death rates (because of no treatment) in the small towns and rural areas, where there is no social health infrastructure to even monitor what is going on.

In neighboring Sierra Leone, the infection rate is again spiking, and the only Ebola treatment center in southern Sierra Leone may shut down, because health care workers are going on strike for the hazard pay they were promised, which they have not received.

In the Mali capital, Bamako, which has a long border with Guinea, a second outbreak is occurring. Already, three have died, and nearly 100 are in quarantine. An Imam with Ebola-type symptoms from Guinea traveled to Bamako, where he died. His body, when it was most contagious, was washed at a Bamako mosque and then returned to Guinea, without any special precautions being taken. Now one of the nurses who cared for him has died of Ebola. Nearly 100 people, from the hospital and the nurse's home, have been put under quarantine.