-Diplomats appeal for Liberia
Foreign Diplomats accredited to Liberia are appealing to the international community to “slow down” the speed of “Ebola assistance drawdown” until the Liberian Government can fully capacitate its health system.
Cameroon’s Ambassador to Liberia and Acting Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Mr. Beng’yela Augustine Gang, made the appeal Monday when the World Health Organization officially certificated Liberia as Ebola-freed state ahead of neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa where cases are said to still be active.
Togolese President, Faure Essozinmna Gnassingbe, who coordinates ECOWAS’ Ebola response in the sub-region, cautioned at the ceremony in Monrovia that as long as Ebola is not totally eradicated from neighboring states, Liberia is not “off the hook” and must therefore remain vigilant.”
Compared with Guinea and Sierra Leone, Liberia was at most points in the horrifying periods of the Ebola crisis considered the worst performing among the three hardest hit countries where the WHO records the “largest, longest, and most complex outbreak” of Ebola since its emergence in 1976.
Lack of knowledge to tackling Ebola in a weak health system were key among major factors highlighted in Liberia, and the country is said to have recorded more than half – (4,769) of the total Ebola deaths of more than eleven thousand throughout the outbreak that began March 2014 in Guinea.
Liberia’s certification, which is seen by others as a miracle, was witnessed Monday by President Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai, local and international partners, foreign government representatives, including the World Health Organization, the United States, China, the European Union, Diplomats from the African block and ECOWAS’ Ebola Coordinator – Mr. Faure Essozinmna Gnassingbe – the President of Togo, among others.
Version of the Togolese President’s statement translated and read in English however said Liberia has won a big battle by eradicating Ebola, saying it was a real historical success.
But he suggested the need to build stronger health system that will be able to effectively respond to future health issues.
Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah – the head of Liberia’s Incident Management System under the Ministry of Health, who received the Ebola-freed Certificate on behalf of government, boasted that Liberia now has the “competence” to deal with any Ebola case whether it has human or animal origin, saying, “We have conquered the terrifying Ebola Virus.”
Pledging the United States’ commitment to continue working with Liberia in strengthening the health system, US Ambassador to Liberia Madam Deborah Malac, cautioned that there were still confirmed cases in neighboring countries, though Liberia is now Ebola-freed.
In appreciating health workers, doctors and all those who made sacrifices in the fight against the virus, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf equally thanked the security sector, including the police and army for their immense sustained security role played, especially working along with the US Army deployed here in the crisis and for helping to construct ETUs, among others.
She said the challenge that lies ahead of the country after being certificated Ebola-freed is working with Liberia’s two neighboring countries – Sierra Leone and Guinea- to have them reach the level that Liberia now reaches.
Already, President Sirleaf says Liberia has started in that light and government will intensify the effort of assistance to these neighboring states because “we know that until they are freed, we are not freed.”
President Sirleaf thanked all partners and organizations that helped Liberia throughout the crisis. Earlier, Ghana’s Foreign Minister Madam Hanna Serwaa Teteeh said of Liberia’s success that “it only speaks volume of the kind of leadership you have,” pondering over how a country that was worst hit has come out to be the first declared freed of Ebola, amidst a standing ovation from the audience.
The World Bank County Manager Inguna Dobraja said, the laudable turnaround of the situation is the result of the country’s strong leadership and everyone uniting to fight against the threat to humanity, suggesting that these efforts continue in rebuilding Liberia’s health services.
Live testimonies were heard at the commencement of the occasion from major contributors, affected persons and “heroes and heroines” of the Ebola crisis, including IMS Chief Tolbert Nyenswah; ELWA Medical Director, Doctor Jerry Brown; Montserrado Representative Saah Joseph; the President of the Press Union of Liberia, Mr. Abdullah Kamara; a church leader Rev. Prosper Ghatey, who helped some affected persons as well as some survivors, among key players during the crisis.
By Winston W. Parley – Edited by Mr. Jonathan Brown