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The different but hard realities of EBOLA

In West Africa, the governments in especially the Mano River Union countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) quarantined their populations without adequate provisions (food and basic necessities for the poor population not given a consideration). The crucial aspect of this issue is that no one challenged their actions through the other channels of governance-be it the judiciary or other autonomous commissions that address government's excesses. On the other hand, we have seen medical practitioners returning from EBOLA West Africa challenging, defying and even threatening to sue when quarantine has been recommended or imposed on them. It is believed the judiciary/court will be drawn in to sort out the issue. Surely, there are some governance issues to be learnt here especially in making decisions that affect the citizens.

The EBOLA holding and treatment centers in the Mano River Basin are makeshift structures located in shabby environments that favour the inception of other ailments-pneumonia, malaria and others. The medical staffs are normally seen with inadequate body wears and insufficient equipment. On the other hand, the few cases that have been confirmed and handled in western world are normally in heavily defined isolated areas with specialized medical staff and heavily equipped with the latest equipment and not to mention the highest precaution in place in those environment.

Another issue is that in the MRU countries, survivors of the disease are just released in to their communities with huge uncertainties awaiting them. They are greeted with death news of their other family members, stigmatisation, despair, dejection, banishment and other inhumane treatments. On the other hand, survivor in the western world experience things differently. For instance, the British nurse on recovering from the disease had the opportunity to make a highly publicized press conference with a loving family and community available to him. In a similar vain, those that survived the virus in the United States of America were opportuned to make press conferences and other high profile events. One of the survivors even received a hug from president Barack Obama.

When you also look at the number of lives lost to the disease outbreak there are enormous differences. Despite the number being in the thousands in West Africa since the outbreak, the media attention given it was so poor and didn’t actually catch the attention of the world. As soon as few cases reached the western hemisphere, the world’s media was making it their headlines and some countries even raised their security risk levels.

The structures that support the functioning and maintaining the very fabric of the West African societies are crumbling and heavily threatened by this EBOLA Virus Disease. The sad and unbearable reality of this disease is that it is destroying the traditional African family values (love and care for loved ones when they are sick and giving a befitting rite to the dead) and community cohesion (interdependence, intense interaction, sharing of good and difficult moments together etc).

May this menace soon come to pass……...

--Momo Turay

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