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Liberia pleads for coordination of aid in Ebola fight

October 7th, 2014
02:32 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Liberia is in desperate need for someone to take charge of the fight against Ebola, that country’s ambassador to the UK, Rudolf von Ballmoos, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“We're having help from all over the world, I must say, and for this we are extremely grateful,” he said, adding that the U.S. military, the U.N., Germany, Norway, and others have all stepped in to assist the fledging Liberian ministry of health.

“But what we will need – proper coordination.”

“Who is taking instructions from who? That's something we have to sit and coordinate it properly. That's what Liberia is looking for.”

Liberia has been by the far the worst hit by the Ebola epidemic, with 2,069 deaths, according to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 3,431 have died across Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, with the vast majority concentrated in the first three.

Shockingly, there were only 50 doctors in Liberia just before the outbreak started, according to Reuters, for a population of just over four million.

“That's even better than … when President Sirleaf got in,” Ballmoos said. “When President Sirleaf got in, we had seven doctors – practicing Liberian doctors.”

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged hundreds of American military personnel to bolster the response, though the operation has reportedly been slow to get off the ground.

Meanwhile, the CDC is warning that “without additional interventions or changes in community behavior,” there could be as many as 1.4 million cases by the end of January.

“The fact that the Americans are coming - it's a sign of relief. But however we cannot rest on our laurels on that.”

“We cannot just sit and fold our arms and say, aha, the Americans are here. We can't do that. So what we're doing, we are being innovative the best way we can until the Americans actually get on the ground.”

He gave an example of a nursing student who improvised simple sanitary devices to protect herself and save her family from the virus.

“The Ebola situation is very capital intensive.… We all know Nigeria has the finances to do it on her own. We don't.”

“We are coming out of a disastrous situation of fourteen years,” he said, referring to the country’s civil wars, which ended in 2003. “The world knows that. We were trying to climb out of the situation bit by bit, then Ebola comes on. What do we do?”

“We have to continue with the awareness campaign.”

“That message, it's now being sold throughout Liberia. The communities, at a community level, they're all getting the message slowly but surely. We've trickled it down to kids, to everyone.”

“We had a major problem of, first of all, not accepting that Ebola exists. Now they are accepting it. Now they're trying to be careful in self-hygiene, washing your hands properly. These are simple methods.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Ebola • Latest Episode • Liberia
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