On June 9, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Liberia free of the transmission of Ebola. The announcement came 42 days after the last confirmed Ebola patient in the country tested negative for the second time. Liberia was first declared Ebola free in May 2015, but the disease reemerged 3 times, bringing the toll to over 10,000 reported cases and just under 5000 deaths as of March.
The country remains committed to the efforts of eradicating the disease through better health and sanitation practices, and educating its citizens. Stigma surrounding the disease, along with the continued practice of traditional funeral rites, contributed to the disease’s difficult containment.
In August, the Institute of Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) announced a post-Ebola recovery workshop designed to work with government ministries and agencies to identify the best path forward for the country’s continued recovery.The WHO is also working with the country to screen for cases of the virus, and with the victims to reduce the stigma and help them reenter the community. Staff from the U.S. based Centers for Disease Control were deployed as early as 2014 to provide technical guidance and aid in the implementation of recovery and containment plans. The CDC will continue its work with the country in the days ahead.
UNICEF also responded to the crisis by focusing on giving aid to children survivors, and to the vast numbers of children who lost family members to the disease. It provided distance learning education while schools were closed in a state of emergency, and continues to work with the country in sanitation, education, and counseling for affected children.
Liberia is currently under a 90-day heightened surveillance period in which survivors of the virus can still transmit the disease through bodily fluids, and people entering the country from other infected areas are a concern.
Liberia is concentrating on strengthening epidemiology and laboratory capacity, and the restoration of routine health care after the subsequent June 9th WHO announcement. Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also emphasizes the need for justice and security measures as a component of Liberia’s continued recovery.