GBARNGA, LIBERIA, August 19 (RIA Novosti ), Mark Hirst – There is growing mistrust of the Government and authorities in the country as the Ebola outbreak continues to spread, leading Liberian community activist and former Senator Franklin Siakor has told RIA Novosti.
“Many ordinary people have no confidence in the government in particular and politicians in general,” Siakor told RIA Novosti.
Siakor said there was wide speculation about the motives of those in power and their possible role in the Ebola outbreak which has claimed a confirmed 1,145 people so far, 413 of those in Liberia. There have also been deaths in Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“Many ordinary Liberians today see politicians as people who will lie and kill to get whatever they want. Some see politicians as people who practice witchcraft to get power. Some believe people in power are looking for blood. Some believe God is punishing us,” Siakor told RIA Novosti.
The former Senator, turned community activist, said mixed messages coming from the authorities were not helping the spread and control of the disease. He said dead bodies were going uncollected and that Government messages about how they are managing the outbreak are not matching the reality on the ground.
“Government is not helping the situation when it says one thing and the people find it to be a lie,” Siakor told RIA Novosti.
“For example all the Ebola awareness messages are telling people to go to the hospital when they experience symptoms of Ebola and to alert the health authorities when they see someone in their communities with symptoms and to alert the health workers to pick up dead bodies,” Siakor said. “But the hospitals are closed and health workers have not gone to some communities to collect dead bodies when the community calls them.”
“The situation in West Point [where a medical center was attacked and 17 suspected Ebola patients ‘disappeared’] just highlighted the level of ignorance in the country with a politicized population that is not informed,” Siakor said.
“Whenever the government says something, people question what the government is saying,” Siakor added.
Public health experts from the United States are said to have been sent to Liberia along with extensive testing equipment, but so far those resources have not yet left the US military base at Charlesville, next to the Roberts International airport, 35 miles east of the capital Monrovia.
The equipment and medical staff are being co-ordinated by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who declined to comment on why the equipment had not yet left the military base.