Ebola Outbreak: Liberia declared “Ebola-free

From the Lutheran Disaster Response Blog:

5/22/2015

​On March 30, 2014, Liberia confirmed its first two cases in
the recent Ebola epidemic. A little more than a year later, Liberia was
officially declared Ebola-free on May 9, 2015, after 42 days of zero reported
Ebola cases.

Day 42 is the magic number because it is double the
timeframe of the virus’ incubation period of 21 days, which is the official
criterion needed to declare that the human-to-human transmission of the virus
is over. This is an enormous achievement for Liberia – a country that was
reporting 300-400 new Ebola cases every week during the peak of the epidemic.

The Rev. Andrea Walker, Global Mission area program director
for Madagascar, West/Central Africa was in Liberia when the epidemic officially
ended.

“The most incredible thing to me as I visited Liberia during
the week they were declared Ebola-free is the hard work of the people of
Liberia,” says Walker. “Everywhere they showed extreme vigilance. The directive
to wash your hands and to have your temperature taken were measures that I am sure
helped to curtail this disease. It was good to be with the people of the
Lutheran Church in Liberia once again. I felt the absence of the usual hugs and
handshakes, but I realize that this change of cultural practice had been
necessary for survival.”

ebola
A poster from Liberia on Ebola prevention tips that was used to help curtail the outbreak.

While they could have felt defeated as the Ebola virus
continued to spread throughout their country, Liberians did not give up – they
fought against the disease with everything they had.

“Liberians were hard at work during the Ebola crisis, trying
to save their way of life,” says the Rev. Themba Mkhabela, Global Mission
regional representative for Madagascar, West/Central Africa. “Liberia would not
be free of Ebola today if Liberians did not fight to save their country. The
efforts of the international community also helped win the fight against Ebola,
but the efforts of the international community would not have succeeded without
the role played by volunteers, ordinary Liberians and the people of faith.”

One of those people of faith was Bishop D. Jensen Seyenkulo
of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, who stayed in Liberia throughout the
outbreak to provide support and serve as a trusted voice. Many Liberians were
initially cautious of the government’s warnings about Ebola. Bishop Seyenkulo made
many trips around the country in the midst of the epidemic to make sure people understood
the seriousness of the situation and the care that was needed.

“I am reminded of an incident in one of the most devastated
villages in the country where people refused to accept the county medical team
or government officials,” says Bishop Seyenkulo. “The only person they were
ready to listen to was their bishop. At the invitation of county officials, I
dropped everything and drove there to reassure community members. At that
point, the community opened itself to the medical help it needed.”

Thanks to the gifts given by people like you, Lutheran
Disaster Response was able to assist in the fight against Ebola in Liberia when
the outbreak was just beginning. We worked with our companion, Lutheran Church
in Liberia, and partners, ACT Alliance and Global Health Ministries. Lutheran
Disaster Response provided medical and disinfectant supplies, distributed food
to people who were quarantined and helped ensure World Health Organization
standards were met in the construction of an isolation center at Phebe
Hospital. We also helped cover air-freight costs for shipments of personal
protective equipment to Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Your generosity allowed
Lutheran Disaster Response to be the church and accompany our brothers and
sisters in Liberia during this difficult time.

While we give thanks for Liberia being declared Ebola-free
and celebrate with the people whose vigilance made it possible, we continue to
pray for the people of Sierra Leone and Guinea who are still fighting against
the Ebola outbreak. And even though Liberia is now Ebola-free, the work
necessary to rebuild communities and health systems is just beginning. We will
continue to walk with the people of Liberia as they begin the post-Ebola phase
of recovery.

Please continue to support Lutheran Disaster Response’s work
in the fight against Ebola by visiting the Ebola Outbreak Response giving page.

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