Ebola: Embattled Liberian leader’s letter to the World

2014-10-29 10:40
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (AFP, File

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (AFP, File

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Cape Town - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has written a letter to the world lamenting the death of thousands of people in her country over the past six months through the deadly Ebola virus.

In a letter published in Africa Media Initiative, Sirleaf said Ebola had managed to bring her country to a standstill after it killed over 2 000 people, including children and health workers.

Listen to Sirleaf as she reads the letter on BBC World Service Radio.

Ebola is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids of a person who is showing symptoms of infection such as fever, aches, vomiting and diarrhoea, or who has recently died of the virus.

It has already killed at least 5 000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Senegal and Nigeria both stopped the virus in its tracks by tracking down hundreds of people who had contact with the person who first brought it into their country and monitoring them constantly for symptoms.

Developmental work

Liberia has been worst hit by the outbreak, with 4 665 recorded cases and 2 705 deaths, according to the WHO.

Liberia confirmed its first two Ebola cases at the end of March, but the outbreak was largely confined to the northern area bordering Guinea during the first few months of the crisis, until an explosion of cases in and around Monrovia.

Sirleaf said Ebola had threatened to erase all the developmental work her country had done in trying improve the lives of the people over the past 11 years.

"There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars."

International reaction

"In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago... In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realised there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright. Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work," wrote Sirleaf.

Sirleaf commended the world for coming together to fight the virus, adding that this was a fight in which the whole world had a stake, as the disease respected no borders.

"The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realised they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away," she said.

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the United States could not be seen as shying away from battle against Ebola and must support health care workers who are returning from the front lines in Africa.

Read more on:    ellen johnson sirleaf  |  liberia  |  ebola  |  health  |  west africa

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