Ebola Eradication Liberia’s New Goal Says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf


With the goal of stopping the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said December 25 is the day she hopes to eradicate new cases. In a nationwide address on Sunday, Sirleaf acknowledges the nation’s recovery will be difficult. She already ended the national state of emergency on Thursday. To help with making strong improvements, Sirleaf appointed new members to her cabinet including health, education, and public works ministers. George Warner will take over as the new health minister, replacing Walter Gwenigale. Warner is the former head of the civil service.

Of Gwenigale, who is retiring, Sirleaf said he “will continue to work with me on the presidential advisory Ebola committee.” Critics of the country’s erratic response have cited a largely ineffective effort which sought to quarantine large areas of major cities. Other measures included closing schools, shutting down markets, and restricting large gatherings. Despite these responses, Liberia had a confirmed 2,812 deaths, more than any other country in Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a total of 5,165 deaths in the three West African countries hit the hardest, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. In her radio address, Sirleaf said the country would “continue to combat the Ebola virus” and attempt to reach “zero new cases by Christmas.” Last week, WHO reported that the incidence of new cases was already starting to decrease in certain counties. Of Liberia’s 15 counties, two of them have reported a decline in new infections.

Citing these gains, Sirleaf declared that markets could be reopened and students reorganized into cleaning crews for school facilities. Deciding to reopen the schools to the nation’s children will depend on reaching President Sirleaf’s new goal of Ebola’s complete eradication from Liberia. Sirleaf said the task would not be complete until nearby countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone were also Ebola free. The outbreak in the country began in March after crossing the border from Guinea.

While new cases of Ebola appear to be slowing in urban sites of Liberia, additional incidents have spread to rural areas, like the town of Jenewonde near the Western border. A doctor in Sierra Leone recently became ill with the disease after treating sick patients. As a U.S. resident, Dr. Martin Salia was transferred to the U.S for treatment and is currently being reported in critical condition at a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. Two deaths have also been reported in Mali, a northern African country. The WHO said it was only a matter of time before additional cases were imported to other countries. In the last four years, they have treated two cases per year compared to the current outbreak of one to two new cases per week

With a new team in place, President Sirleaf said she fully expects to accomplish her goal of eradicating the spread of Ebola by the end of the year. She confirmed that the new appointments were necessary to ensure officials are “understanding of the prevailing challenges.” She said in the future, she will “not hesitate to change anyone who fails to meet our expectations.”

By Didi Anofienem


Voice of America
Photo By: Africa Progress Panel – Flickr License


One Response to "Ebola Eradication Liberia’s New Goal Says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf"

  1. ottarstensvold   November 17, 2014 at 12:54 am

    This could also be relevant for Ebola, which also is a single-stranded RNA virus:

    HIV vaccine

    The body’s initial “vaccine-reaction” against HIV could be prolonged if the viruses were inactivated. In comparison, the poliovirus can be inactivated by cleavage of its RNA by ammonia. Hopefully, the same can be true for HIV. Both viruses contain single-stranded RNA and hydrolytic proteases. Perhaps the proteases perform (catalyse) aminolysis of the phosphodiester bonds in RNA, and so cut the strands. HIV has even RNase H which is specialized in breaking RNA strands. I guess there are proteins with nuclease activity also in the Ebola viruses, e.g. the nucleoprotein (NP). Maybe even coiled, viral RNA can work on itself as an aminolytic ribozyme. The phosphorus/phosphate (PO4-) in RNA repels water more than ammonia, and is thus favoring aminolysis over hydrolysis. (NH3 is a stronger nucleophile and a slightly smaller molecule than H2O).


    The tight encapsulation/packing of RNA in the viruses will probably promote the aminolysis process. There is high inward osmotic pressure in viruses. The hydrophobic cores in the ribonucleoproteins will attract ammonia.
    (The Ebola viruses are extra prone to breakage during mechanical stress in vivo because of their long, rod-shaped forms).

    And the host cells use RNases to hydrolyse foreign RNA. Maybe the RNases switch to aminolysis when ammonia is available, and thereby speed up this defense.

    In this regard, inhalation of ammonia could be a way to destroy HIV and other RNA viruses in blood and tissue.


    Written by:

    Ottar Stensvold



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