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Ebola timebomb: Brutal truth of epidemic in Liberian slum

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  • Ebola timebomb: Brutal truth of epidemic in Liberian slum

    Comment: Would like to patch the entire article. Read in full at the link - based on this article, I would say that skepticism about improvements in Liberia are justified.

    EXCLUSIVE - 'Every one of these children is a ticking Ebola timebomb': Brutal truth of epidemic in Liberian slum where footballer George Weah grew up as number of orphans 'hits 12,000' Epidemic can't be controlled in 80pc of Liberia despite claims it has peaked

    Read more:

    Three-year-old Emmanuel Thompson appears first, peering through the doorway of the house in the Clara Town slum. Then tiny Mercy McGill, trots out, and soon there are 10 children running around, shrieking, laughing, looking incredibly cute... and potentially carrying deadly Ebola.

    For every one of these children has emerged from the house of a man who bled to death just two days ago from the terrifying virus. Each one of their smiling, innocent faces is a ticking Ebola timebomb - but for all the claims that the disease is under control in Liberia, no one in authority has done anything to monitor or check them.

    This is the brutal truth about the outbreak that has ravaged West Africa and reached the U.S., Spain, Germany, and the U.K: not only are huge numbers of carriers simply 'disappearing' from official figures, but the number of children left orphaned is at least three times the size of existing estimates.

    James Dorbor Jallah, one of the most senior figures in charge of Liberia's fight against Ebola, told MailOnline that his country alone has probably 12,000 children who have lost their parents to the virus, not the 3,600 currently feared.


    He admitted that despite claims the virus has plateaued, in 80 per cent of the country they are not in control and that incidents like the ten children in . 'It is very scary... People are moving freely, people who should be in quarantine, some people are under observations and then they disappear…and nobody knows where they've gone to.'


    At first he was fine, then he fell sick. Two days ago, she says, an ambulance arrived to take him away. People in protective clothing hosed down the room and closed the door, and then they left.

    Later, they learned that he had tested positive for Ebola. The treatment centre that admitted him will have filed a report to the ministry of health about where he lived and what should then have happened was that everyone was placed in quarantine for 21 days to prevent the spread of the disease.

    But there are not enough people to follow up such reports, so everyone simply carried on as if nothing had happened. Katumu could already be incubating Ebola - but no one is keeping track.


    Jallah says it is unfortunate that much of the current international aid spending is now focussed on building treatment units when money is needed for more urgent work. What is needed, he says, is funding for teams of people - known as contact tracers - to follow up on reported cases such as the one in Clara Town.

    Inside the MSF treatment centre in Monrovia, where staff in protective suits tend to the sick and dying, spokesman Fernando Calero picks up a form which staff fill in when a new patient arrives, listing who they contact. The forms are sent to the health ministry, but that's where MSF's involvement ends.

    Calero is frustrated. The money is going to the wrong places, he says. No-one wants to step forward to take charge of something as basic as tracing those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive for the disease.

    'Everyone is raising money for treatment centres,' he says. 'We don't need treatment centres but they all want to build them because they want the biggest one. But there are a lot of other things to do and they should readapt.'

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  • #2
    Re: Ebola timebomb: Brutal truth of epidemic in Liberian slum

    More insight from this Laurie Garrett article.

    Liberia Is Stiffing Its Contact Tracers as Ebola Epidemic Continues

    FREETOWN, Liberia -- Some 600 angry Ebola workers surrounded Liberia's Ministry of Health Monday demanding back pay dating from early September. The Ministry employees who track down anyone who may have come into contact with an Ebola victim -- a critical process called contact tracing -- have never received a dime.


    The enraged workers, whose labors are essential to stemming the Ebola epidemic, shouted angrily for hours. Holding up cell phone pictures to illustrate the conditions under which they toil, the contact tracers described fording raging rivers in dugout canoes, hiking through knee-high mud, and hunting for hours in blazing sun through slums that have no addresses.

    "They are lying to the Liberian people," King James of Zybah Town shouted, waving his fist at the Ministry of Health. "They are not doing the prevention measures they claim."