There have been reports of infighting among aid organizations and local officials in Liberia about how to contain the Ebola outbreak, and it’s affecting efforts on the ground, according to a report in the New York Times.
According to the report, Liberian officials and the several dozen countries and aid organizations that are working together in Liberia to make the best use of the resources that are pouring into that country aren’t on the same page about allocation, and that’s causing friction.
The report describes meeting minutes that detail how health care workers don’t have access to resources they need (like thermometers) to care for infected individuals, and officials who aren’t accurately reporting the number of people who are infected or have died. Relatives of those infected reportedly can’t get proper information about their loved ones, and “countries refuse to change plans” and build makeshift hospitals in the areas where they are most needed, according to the Times.
The Times learned of what is described as the “messy and contentious process of running the sprawling response to Liberia’s epidemic” because it was outlined in the minutes of high-level meetings between different countries’ representatives and aid groups.
Despite these problems, Liberia’s Ebola infection rate is decreasing.
“With help from donors, Liberia, one of the three most afflicted West African countries, and the one with the highest death toll, has seen new cases drop to about 20 a day from about 100 a day two months ago,” the Times reports.
“Experts attribute that to fearful Liberians touching one another less, more safe burials of bodies and distribution of protective gear to health care workers. But they also warn that cases are now holding steady and could explode again,” the news site continues.
People who were at the meetings are downplaying what was described in the minutes and said that the exchanges were at times “passionate” but overall cordial.
“Participants … said the atmosphere in the meetings in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, should not be characterized as chaotic or bogged down in bickering, instead calling them ‘collegial’ and ‘effective,’ although one who spoke on condition of anonymity described” an atmosphere of “‘showmanship and political posturing,’” the Times explains.
Read more at the New York Times.