Roll over Ebola: measles is the deadly new threat
Yet with Liberia emerging from the worst outbreak in history a year to the day since Ebola was first identified in West Africa, the slum-dwellers are facing an even deadlier threat — the measles virus.
Experts say Liberia and its neighbors Guinea and Sierra Leone are ripe for an outbreak that could infect hundreds of thousands, dwarfing the carnage wrought by Ebola.
Death once again stalks impoverished communities like Peace Island, a cramped spit of land surrounded by swamp where 30,000 people sought refuge behind the abandoned Ministry of Defense after Liberia’s 1989-2003 civil wars.
By mid-March, coastal Liberia is already mercilessly hot and healthcare workers sweat as they pass through the slum in a mini-truck, calling out to mothers via a loudspeaker to bring out their babies.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to bring my child for the measles vaccine because in this community children are dying,” Marie Bassa, 32, tells AFP after climbing down from the vehicle with her nine-month-old baby.
The government said on Friday a woman in Monrovia had tested positive for Ebola, but the case was the first in the country for more than a month and officials said they were not concerned that it would lead to a wider outbreak.
Despite the setback, Liberia is considered to be well on the road to recovery from an outbreak that brought the country to its knees, claiming more than 4,000 of the 10,000 lives lost across west Africa.