Why COVID-19 is more Complicated for countries in our neck-of-the woods than EVD

In 2014 when Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone were hit by the EVD, it was a blessing that we got the attention of the world. I remember when consultants and media experts would whisper to us that what we needed was the “CNN effect” and then the world would pay attention. It seems that we garnered more than the “CNN effect” and the world came to our rescue.

It is also apparent that the leader of the “free world” at that time had a different worldview and therefore decided that he would be proactive and engaged in curbing the epidemic in the West African region because failure to do that could potentially see the EVD on his shores. Many world leaders then shared similar perspectives and therefore converged on West Africa and fought the ‘virus’ there. When we consider what is obtaining today and the opportunities that were missed to have tackled the COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, the 2014 decision by the leader of the free world looks like the best gift of God to mankind.

Given today’s situation, it seems that countries in our neck-of-the-woods will not be able to benefit from the “CNN effect” and may not see the world coming to their rescue as everyone is dealing with this situation his own back yard. I don’t think the WHO (World Health Organization) will have the financial means to assist poor countries because those who usually donate are themselves struggling to deal with the virus.

It seems that there will be no help coming from anywhere: sooner or later. It means that every country has to fight for its own survival. There is no way any country will feel more sorry for another country than itself. Everyone is trying to ensure that her citizens are safe from the devastating impact of this virus.

What is more terrifying is that the best health care systems in the world are crumbling under the weight of COVID-19. The US, the richest country in the world, is claiming that its healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the COVID-19. Some of the best hospitals in Italy are overwhelmed.

As we were challenged during EVD in 2014, it is becoming apparent that no health care delivery system, the world over, can ever be adequately prepared for such epidemic or pandemic. Like in our neck-of-the-woods were health professionals got infected because of the lack of PPE, the same exact thing is happening in the US. The US is supposed to be the golden standard in health care delivery and it is in the same exact position as we were in 2014.

Considering all of this, it is my strong opinion that we have to take 4-times more drastic measures than what is being obtaining in the US, China and Italy so that we don’t have an outbreak because no one is coming. They are all busy at home. What we learned from EVD is that in a situation where there is no cure, we do everything to curtail transmission. That is why social mobilization and contact tracing are extremely important. We need to watch out for ourselves. We need to listen to the health professionals. We need to listen to the Government.

I understand that the Incident Management Team was meeting today in Liberia. I hope they put together the appropriate protocols, communicate them well, and get the community involved. These viruses are fought and contained at the community level.

May God bless our neck-of-the-woods and keep us safe!

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.

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