The Liberian Government has conferred honors on 42 distinguished individuals, humanitarians, institutions, organizations, most of them associated with the fight against the Ebola virus disease in Liberia, including all health care workers- eight of them posthumously together with all health care workers who lost their lives during the period of Ebola.
The ceremony kicked-off the official celebrations marrking Liberia’s 168th Independence Anniversary to be official celebrated in Sinoe and Grand Kur Counties in the southeast of the country.
An Executive Mansion release issued last weekend said the Investiture Ceremony took place in the theater of the Monrovia City Hall in the presence of high-ranking government officials, diplomats, well-wishers and family members of the honorees.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- Grand Master of the Orders of Distinction, recognized the honorees for their devotion, sacrifices, and altruism, noting that several, in the discharge of their duties, as well asr response to service, paid the ultimate price of life.
She indicated that though they cannot be brought back to life, Liberians will forever cherish their memories. The Liberian leader paid tribute to those, who despite the risks, put country before self, taking on the challenges to reach out and administer to those befallen by an unknown enemy.
“We owe much to our doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals, and healthcare workers who stood by us in those terrifying days,” she emphasized, acknowledging with pride the indispensable role played by the communities represented by the several groups being honored.
President Sirleaf extolled Liberia’s friends from around the world who left the comfort and safety of their country and families to join and stand by the country in this fight.
“I cannot say enough for the leaders and people of our own regional institutions – ECOWAS, AU – several countries like brother’s keepers where here despite the obvious risks,” she said, thanking everyone for what they did in the interest of Liberia and its people.
The Liberian leader stressed that although the virus was still around, the government was confident in its capability to respond and defeat the virus.
Before Health Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn, received the honor on behalf of the healthcare workers, a Citation by the President read by the Chief of Protocol of Liberia, Ambassador Rufus Neufville, stated in part: “…The impact of this outbreak has been enormous in terms of loss of human lives and negative economic socio-economic consequences. The health care workers were disproportionately affected with more than 300 cases and about 200 deaths reported amongst this group.”
“In the midst of the inadequate health work force, the country suffered seriously by the impact of Ebola on our tireless health workers. This number of health workers has created a huge gap in the healthcare delivery system of the country. The nation will forever remember the health workers still alive and passed for their efforts in the war against Ebola…,” he indicated, further continuiung:
“To Dr. Kent Brantly- a Medical Doctor of the Samaritan Purse and a humanitarian, who became affected by Ebola thus becoming the first person to be treated in the United States when he was evacuated to Emory University Hospital, his Citation stated: ‘After your recovery, you spoke to the President of the United States urging the President and Congress to commit resources in proportion to the magnitude of the crisis in West Africa. You felt it a privilege and duty to speak out on behalf of the people of West Africa who continue to suffer from the scourge of Ebola…’”
“To the late Dr. Samuel Brisbane- a victim of the Ebola virus, the Citation by the President read: …’By his demise the Liberian people have been deprived of his valuable and professional expertise in the field of public health and the nation, a distinguished servant of humanity…’”
Responding on behalf of the honorees, the Head of the Incident Management System, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, said it was significant that they were being recognized for their services to country, recalling that when Ebola struck, they were almost ill-prepared to handle the challenges that came along; but they all stood together as a team – courageous, willing, committed and brave – and went the extra mile.
Mr. Nyenswah said even though they fought the disease from different angles, with different titles and responsibilities, the main objective was to save lives; to rid Liberia of Ebola and free them of anguish.
“The significant impact that the team has made can be attributed to meaningful contributions of communities and the Government of Liberia under the leadership of President Sirleaf.”
He paid tribute to the healthcare workers who lost their lives in the service of the nation and thanked all of those who supported their efforts in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
Those admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Grand Commander included: Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh; Humanitarian, the Rev. Trevor Cockings; the Head of the Incident Management System, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah; Medical Doctor at the ELWA Hospital, Dr. Jerry Brown, and Medical Director and Humanitarian, Samaritan Purse, Dr. Kent Brantly.
Others were the Medical Doctor andBomi County Health Officer Dr. Gobah Logan; Medical Doctor and Head of Case Management, Dr. Moses Massaquoi; Medical Doctor, Sinoe County Health Office, Dr. Wilmot Frank; the ETA Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Dental Surgeon, JFK Memorial Hospital, Dr. MarkanduKanagasabai.
Others were the Medical Doctor, J.F.K. Memorial Hospital, Dr. Philip Zochonis Ireland; Liberia Council of Churches; Medical Doctor, JFK Memorial Hospital, Dr. Soka Moses; Medical Doctor and Active Case Finder, Dr. MosokaFallah; and Eta Epsilon Lambda Chapter #260 of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Others admitted into the Order of the Star of Africa, with the Grade of Grand Commander were the Press Union of Liberia; Medical Doctor, Catholic Hospital and an Ebola Survivor, Dr. SengaOmeonga; and All Health Care Workers.-Press Release