COVID-19: My reflections on EVD and the lessons we learned.

It was exactly in March 2014 that the first case of Ebola was reported in Liberia even though Ebola became dramatic on July 25, 2014 when we lost our friend, PO Sawyer. May his soul RIP while his memories live with us forever.

Ebola taught us many lessons that I hope we have all learned. I can say with much confidence that, after our experience with Ebola, we have some of the finest public health practitioners who can manage epidemics of this proportion.

Dr. Fallah and his team, if given the support and cooperation, can manage the containment of the coronavirus. Dr. Fallah and many others worked on social mobilization and contact tracing which are key to containing a virus that has no immediate cure.

There are also others like Dr. Brown, Chief Medical Officer of the Republic, who ran the treatment center at ELWA and was innovative in putting together a cocktail of medications that saw many walk from that treatment center, fully recovered.

I am also aware of the works done by Abel Newon, Senator Oscar Cooper, Michael George, and countless others in movilizing their communities to be proactive in stopping the spread. There were also many volunteers who worked the phones at GSA under the able leadership of Mary Broh and Dorbor Jallah. Dorbor became a. expert in setting up Forward Logistics Bases (FLB) to move supplies closer to affected areas and people.

Senator Saah Joseph, with a passion for health care, risk his life to get many infected people to treatment centers.

We learned a lot from an epidemiological stand point and I am sure we will be able to contain this virus. We just need to take it seriously and listen to the professionals.

Tolbert Nyesuah and Thomas Nagbe and the rest of the guys were great in setting up the Incident Management Center and providing the epidemiologic data to inform the fight against EVD.

However, here is my worry: the economy. I can argue that we are yet to fully recover from the effect that Ebola had on our economy and if COVID-19 adds to it then it might be decades before we see pre-ebola (2013) economic numbers.

It might be time that we begin to think about measures that will reduce the potential impact of COVID-19 on the economy but more importantly how we will recover after the COVID-19.

I believe that already we are seeing some adverse impact on the economy. There are importers who cannot get supply out of China and this means that we won’t be able to get customs duty and so revenue collection will go down. But imagine what if some of the big companies in Liberia change their investment decisions because they were hit hard by COVID-19, globally? This could be consequential.

But the good news is that there are several smart young economists and usiness people in the country who have learned some valuable lessons during the EVD recovery. We may not have had the opportunity of these lessons and so we started discussing EVD economic recovery in August 2014 after we came from our 21-day quarantine. Yes, we had to quarantine ourselves because we had contact with PO Sawyer and the Ministry of Health professionals advised that we do that.

However, today, we have the benefit of learning from what happened during the EVD and we can take plenty of precautions and measures. It is never too early to start planning and now is the time. If we plan for the worse case and nothing happens, that is fine but failing to plan and then the worse case happens, that would be catastrophic.

And let’s not treat COVID-19 like we did Ebola: I remember that while we were fighting the greatest health challenge in our life time, some of us were plotting an “Ellen Step Down” campaign. Nothing can be more unpatriotic than this. Let’s not do that again. Never!

These are my 2 cents.

And most definitely my thoughts and prayers are with my friend, Nathaniel and his family. I am sure he will beat this.

And let’s not stigmatise people in this fight. That is another dangerous thing that can undermine the fight.

God bless the Motherland

Author: JAMES F. KOLLIE

I am a Liberian professional with passion for pro poor economic development and grassroot political organizing. I have read public policy, corporate finance and accounting at various levels. I have worked in government, private sector and non-profit sector.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s