Indians in Liberia contribute to anti-Ebola campaign
Posted on Aug 29 2014 | IANS
By Alaskai Moore Johnson, Monrovia, Aug 29 : As the Ebola virus disease continues to spread across West Africa, the small, 2000-strong Indian community in Liberia, one of the worst affected countries, has come for appreciation from the country's leadership for doing its bit in the fight against the deadly outbreak.
Through their honorary Consul General Upjit Singh Sachdeva, the Indians donated two ambulances and other assorted items valued at more than USD 200,000, to the ongoing national anti-Ebola campaign.
The donation, made Thursday, was received by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who praised the Indians for "standing with Liberia in difficult times".
Before he handed the items over to the president, Sachdeva commended President Sirleaf for her "extraordinary leadership in effectively and urgently responding to the outbreak and spread of the dreadful Ebola virus disease".
"Excellency and members of the task force, we note with satisfaction the measures put into place by the government of Liberia to stop the spread of this deadly disease. Accordingly, we have advised all of our members to abide by these measures," the honorary consul general said.
Sachdeva said that the enormity of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Liberia, and three other West African countries - Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria - has made fighting the epidemic a global challenge, requiring an effective global response.
"The response by the international community so far to combat the disease is very encouraging," he said.tg6f
He told President Sirleaf that the current outbreak of the disease is affecting the country in many ways.
"It is affecting the people; it is affecting all communities in the country; it is affecting the nation, and it is also affecting neighbouring nations. Neighbouring and other states have unfortunately closed the air and land borders, severely hampering intra-sub-regional trade on which Liberia depends largely for the import of some essential food items."
Sachdeva told the audience at the donation event that the Association of Indian Community in Liberia sees itself as an important stakeholder in the Liberian society, and that they see it as part of their bounden duty and responsibility to contribute to the fight to eliminate the disease.
He assured the Liberians that despite the economic consequences the disease's outbreak is having on the business community, he and other leaders of the Indian community have advised all their members involved in economic activities not to exploit this situation by unnecessarily hiking prices.
"Today, we are pleased to say that they are in solidarity with the Liberian government and people by being concerned of this outbreak and have vowed to do all they can to curtail this virus."
President Sirleaf thanked the Indian community for its immense contributions to the commercial sector of the country, as well as for venturing into the industrial sector where, she said, more jobs will be created for young Liberians.
Besides two ambulances, the 22 truck-loads of items donated include 2,000 bags of rice, hospital beds, 24,000 bottles of water, and household utensils.
The World Health Organisation Thursday warned that the number of people infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa could reach 20,000, six times more than the current estimates.
To date, the WHO has recorded 3,069 cases of Ebola virus and 1,552 deaths in West Africa (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and, to a lesser extent, Nigeria).
According to Bruce Aylward, assistant director general of WHO, the scale of the current Ebola outbreak has never been anticipated.
He said the increase came from cities including the Liberian capital Monrovia, where a slum was quarantined last week, leading to food shortages and civil unrest.
"It's really just some urban areas that have outstripped the reporting capacity," he said.
Medecins sans Frontieres said it was struggling to cope with the case load in Monrovia.
(Alaskai Moore Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)