What has the world learned from the Ebola outbreak in Liberia five years ago?
A visit to Liberia on the trail of “We Want You to Live: Liberia’s Fight Against Ebola”
Five years ago, the Ebola virus began to spread rapidly in West Africa. More than 11,000 people died, almost half the population of Liberia. The epidemic destroyed the countryâ€™s health system and was only brought under control once the international community recognized it as a global threat and supplied 3.5 billion euros to combat the virus. Nevertheless, Liberians today still feel neglected by the international community. The country is entering an economic crisis – hospitals lack medicines and electricity. Liberians continue to consume so-called bushmeat: monkeys, rodents and bats, which may carry the Ebola virus as well as new pathogens.
But from their experiences of fighting the epidemic, doctors, nurses and health inspectors have drawn unique and valuable knowledge: “Learning by dying”,
to use their words. What, then, has the world learned from the Ebola outbreak of 2014? Do survivors still battle stigmatization, and would doctors and nurses today be better prepared against a new outbreak? What have the billions pumped into the country during that time left behind?
Carl Gierstorfer and Laura Salm-Reifferscheidt spent more than two months in Liberia in 2014. Now they return as the Ebola Virus continues to claim new victims in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.