‘Get To Source’- Liberia Envoy to Brussels Tells International Community
Brussels – Liberia’s Ambassador to Brussels, Dr. Isaac W. Nyenabo has warned the international community that the best way to keep an outbreak of disease such as Ebola from becoming an international threat is to stop it quickly at its source and ensure that a well-functioning health system is put in place before health crisis strikes.
He is also recommending constant mutation and adaptation, adding that they are the survival mechanisms of the microbial world. According to him, changes in the way humanity behaves on the planet have given viruses and bacteria multiple new opportunities to exploit.
“New diseases are now emerging at an unprecedented rate. Moreover, in the world of radically increased interdependence, international travel and trade, there is no such thing as a local outbreak anymore”, said Ambassador Nyenabo.
He made the remarks at a program based on an invitation extended him by Colonel David H. Tabior, Commander of USAF, on the theme Captioning the Agenda for the African Theater course. The program is the special operation school called USAF special operations school theater engagement division of NATO.
The Liberian diplomat is also recommending a required surveillance system that can pick up early signals of unusual disease events, response teams that can track and investigate cases, and laboratory services to support the investigation.
He said: “Much of the surrounding forest has been destroyed by foreign mining and timber operations. Some evidence suggests that disruption of the ancient forest ecology brought potentially infected wild animals, and the bat species thought to harbor the virus into closer contact with human settlements.
“The disease that killed so many people did not go unnoticed. However, lack of capacity meant that the disease was first misdiagnosed as cholera and then later as lassa fever, two of the many common infectious diseases that mimic the early symptoms of Ebola. By then, the virus was firmly entrenched”, the Ambassador said.
He told a gathering of security personnel that Liberia Scientists assumption that the most likely breeding ground for new diseases was in the forests of Africa and the teeming cities of Asia was despair by the outbreak of the middle east respiratory syndrome or MERS which emerged in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2012. “No one expected that an arid desert environment and camels instead of chickens would give rise to a new disease”, he noted.
“To understand the event, Liberia had begun to look at state of health care in our country, the assumptions that drove the early response, and the cultural traditions that fed rapid spread. A look and experience of the Ebola outbreak yields a number of lessons that are acting on with urgency,” he said.
He further claimed that the latest outbreak of diseases around the world demonstrates that a disease threat anywhere is a disease threat everywhere and the Ebola epidemic has shown how easily infectious disease can cross borders- land, Rivers and even oceans. From the start of the epidemic porous country borders among the three West African countries and a highly mobile population aided the rapid spread of Ebola from its origin in Guinea. In West Africa, borders control measures are mostly nonexistent.
“Experiences under review indicated that CDC works with airlines, airports, Ministries of Health, and other partners in West Africa for the provision of assistance in conducting existing screening and travel restrictions in countries with Ebola transmission. The essence of Active monitoring at the time was to ensure that a person’s health is closely followed by public health authorities so that, if symptoms develop, action can be taken immediately,” He said.