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10 Mar 2016
Monrovia mayor involved the community leaders to defeat Ebola

Monrovia mayor involved the community leaders to defeat Ebola

Monrovia City Mayor, Mrs. Clara Doe Mvogo went up to the front in battle against Ebola Virus which terrorized the Liberian capital between 2014 and 2015 (4, 809 people killed in the country). She choose to engage the community leaders in the battle. Clara Mvogo explains her approach to Oxfam America, who wrote an article about it. 


The mayor made the diagnosis of the situation and sat with community leaders to take action. “We had people in our legislature who denied the existence of Ebola on the radio. You’re dealing with people who most of them can’t read or write. You’re dealing with people who are scared, and when you get scared you get angry. There were so many stigmas around Ebola. You had to go to the grassroots people and say, ‘help me get the word out”, explains Clara Mvogo. 

For help, she turned to Monrovia’s hundreds of local leaders, visiting with representatives in each of the city’s locales to let them know she was anxious to work with them. With support from UNICEF, Mvogo’s administration invited 236 elected community leaders and 594 block leaders to city hall for two days of training. 

It was focused on four issues: (1) acknowledgement that the dreaded disease was in their city; (2) establishing a clear understanding of Ebola’s symptoms; (3) communicating the steps people needed to take to report those suspected of having the virus; and (4) how to support community members returning to their homes after release from Ebola treatment units or observation centers.

During “Operation Stop Ebola”, the mayor did not only supervise, she went into the filed. For example, she worked for three days with block leaders, UNICEF volunteers and Ministry of Health community workers in Zuma Town, the last epic center of the virus.  “In less than a month’s time, the numbers started going down noticeably,” says Mvogo. “There is a direct connection with what we were doing at the grass [roots] level with getting rid of Ebola...It was community-based awareness, training and sensitization—that’s how we got rid of Ebola in Liberia. It wasn’t only the government or the international community. It was with the support of community leaders”, she says. 

The approach, she adds, could be a model for other epidemics. Local people know what’s best for their communities. On this point of view, the international community needs to follow the lead of local leaders who really understand their communities. “I don’t think we should always wait for the international community to do everything,” says Mvogo. “We should be prepared to help ourselves.”

Actually, the top priorities of the mayor is cleanliness and safety of the capital. She is also determined to ensure that the public toilets under construction are built to last.  

To read the original article, click here.