President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday received a delegation of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headed by its Director, Tom Frieden.
According to an Executive Mansion release, at a meeting held at her Foreign Ministry office on Friday, December 19, President Sirleaf briefed the CDC delegation about the current state of the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease and expressed appreciation to Mr. Frieden for the role of the CDC has played in the fight.
“The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been there with us at the time all hope seemed to have been lost. You stood as a true partner and helped turn the scourge around for the good of the country, the Mano River Union Basin and the global community,” President Sirleaf stressed.
She told the delegation that the focus will now change from treatment to prevention and that the government is now keen on strengthening its regular healthcare system with strong infection control measures. She also encouraged the partners to work with the government in strengthening the regular healthcare system.
“We have heard and do encourage the concept of establishing an African Center for Disease Control that puts the continent in charge when there are future outbreaks anywhere on the continent. A National Public Health Institute for Liberia as being suggested is also a welcomed development,” she said.
In response, director Tom Frieden expressed joy at being back in Liberia and thanked President Sirleaf for her leadership in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease. “I was here around August and September and it seemed all was lost. Coming back, the difference is unimaginable,” he stressed.
Dr. Frieden said the situation in Liberia was much better not just in terms of case management but robust response as well. He urged the Liberian government and partners to now find a way to ensure safe and dignified burial for victims of the Ebola virus so as to address the concerns of families who have lost and continue to lose love ones.
He named effective laboratory system, proper surveillance, robust contact tracing, proper staffing and the intensification of quality infection control measures as urgent steps that must be taken to continue the advance against the further spread of the disease.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control also thanked the Liberian President and her government for considering a regional leadership and dimension of the Ebola fight by announcing the deployment of Liberian responders to Sierra Leone where the situation is still not very good. “This action demonstrates your strong leadership role in the fight against Ebola”, Mr. Frieden pointed out.