After over a year, Liberia declared Ebola-free


Courtesy of UNICEF Liberia

A girl cleans her hands in Monrovia, Liberia.

After over a year of suffering and nearly five thousand deaths, Liberia was finally ruled Ebola-free on Sept. 5 by the World Health Organization.

“Today is a day to celebrate, but we must not forget what we have learned,” said Chief Medical Officer Francis Kateh according to “As long as there is one person with Ebola in our region, Ebola is a threat.”

This isn’t the first time the region was determined to be safe, however. On May 9 of this year, WHO stated the region was Ebola-free before a resurgence of the disease proved them wrong.

“The hospitals were full,” said junior and Liberian native Ayellor Karbah. “People were outside seeking help and they couldn’t get help. They died. It was sad to see.”

This is why officials have decided to keep the country under heightened surveillance for 30 days.

“The government, through the Ministry, has mandated all health facilities and funeral homes to swab all dead bodies, while the communities are encouraged to call 4455 or alert local health officials about dead bodies in their environment,” said Kateh according to the same source.

For people with family in the region, this is a huge relief.

“I was raised here most of my life, (but) I still love my country,” said Karbah. “I have a lot of family there. Even the people that aren’t my family there, they’re still considered my family because we are the same people. It means a lot.”

Since the outbreak, officials have been working on ensuring a mass outbreak, like the one Liberia just experienced, cannot happen again. Earlier this summer, doctors in Guinea developed a vaccine.

“This is an extremely promising development,” said WHO Doctor and Director-General Margaret Chan according to BCNN1. “The credit goes to the Guinean government, the people living in the communities and our partners in this project. An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks.”

Even with the crisis over and a vaccine being developed, Ebola can hardly be seen anywhere in the news.

“In the beginning, it’s exciting for people to hear,” said Karbah. “As time goes by, news fades away.  It did not just happen in Liberia, but it happened in Haiti with the earthquake.  People are still in need (but no one) really talks about it anymore.

“There are a lot of positive things happening right now in Liberia (also), but the news doesn’t like to show the good things. They’re looking for the bad things to show all the time.”

Whatever the mainstream media chooses to report on, this an exciting time for Liberia.

“Knowing that it’s over, it’s a happy time,” said Karbah. “It brings joy to all Liberian lives.  It gives families a chance to live again.”