Ebola virus outbreak: Collapse of three African states possible

Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone's very existence under threat, says Liberian minister

West Africa’s Ebola epidemic threatens the “collapse” of three entire states, a Liberian minister has warned. Speaking exclusively to The Independent on Sunday, information minister Lewis Brown said that the international media had failed to “appreciate” the scale of an epidemic that has gone beyond a health crisis to threaten “every aspect of [Liberia’s] national existence”.

“People need to understand, what we are dealing with has the potential to collapse our three countries,” he said, referring to Liberia and neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone. “Liberia was in its 11th year of peace. We experienced, because of our war, a 90 per cent collapse in the productive sector of our economy, we were rebuilding and our health infrastructure was not what it should have been. We were just bringing back hope and life when we were struck by Ebola. It is having terrible consequences for every aspect of our national existence.”

Only around 40 per cent of the country’s healthcare facilities were functioning, he said, all schools are closed, and an entire farming season has been wasted in the agricultural regions in the country’s north-east, which were the first to record cases of Ebola.

He said the international community’s response to the epidemic, which has claimed at least 2,622 lives, was now reaching the scale required. The US is sending 3,000 military personnel to West Africa.

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