President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has hailed large financial support and assistance rendered by the United States Government during the Ebola crisis here, while informing the U.S. that Liberia now faces the challenge of post-Ebola recovery development plans.
With just a little over a week ahead for Liberia to be declared Ebola-freed, the U.S. Government on Thursday officially ended operations of its special Ebola Treatment Unit particularly built to treat infected health workers near the Roberts International Airport – named Monrovia Medical Unit or MMU.
During the course of roughly seven months of operations in the country, the MMU cared for 42 patients from nine different countries, including 18 health care responders with Ebola.
At the official closing of the MMU in Margibi County on 30 April, President Sirleaf applauded the exceptional support of President Barack Obama and his administration; the advocacy and support of the U.S. Congress for the Obama Administration to act; and the partnership and assistance received from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, U.S. Military, U.S. Public Health Service and other U.S. organizations, among others.
While admitting that Liberia has a primary responsibility to build itself, President Sirleaf however underscored the importance of its partnership with the United States.
She particularly thanked members of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service or PHS, who she recalled left their country to face difficult conditions here, working in the rain in helping to strengthen Liberian health care workers’ confidence that they would get treated if infected with Ebola.
President Sirleaf further recalled that the U.S. military came in to help Liberia at a time in the Ebola crisis when “people thought they had come to support regime change.”
Also, she said the U.S. Center for Disease Control or CDC came in at a time when other countries had closed borders with Liberia due to the Ebola crisis, and the CDC brought in support here.
But with little over a week ahead to be declared Ebola freed, President Sirleaf says Liberia now faces the challenge of the future, referring to the post-Ebola recovery development plan, which starts with the health care system, infrastructure and agriculture, among others.
In closing, she expressed gratitude that Liberia and the U.S. have the commitment to continuing their partnership, as she sees maintenance of the partnership as important.
Describing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as the largest and most complex outbreak in history, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Deborah Malac, recalled how the outbreak killed more than 10,800 with almost half of the victims from Liberia.
Ambassador Malac said the USPHS’ work here has been a key element in the U.S.’ whole-of-government Ebola response effort; and that in addition, the U.S. has deployed several thousand military personnel and government employees to the region.
Madam Malac said her country contributed more than one billion dollars in assistance toward the anti-Ebola fight since the outbreak began, and the majority of those funds and personnel sent to Liberia because it suffered most deaths from Ebola.
The U.S. Ambassador also applauded other U.S. institutions, including the CDC, Department of Defense for Operations United Assistance, USAID, Office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance or OFDA, which led the U.S. Government Disaster Assistance Response Team, DART and funded the operations of the MMU in addition to providing critical logistical support.
Earlier, US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy said members of the Commissioned Corps of the PHS came here with the sense of purpose to serve with commitment and diligence.
He reminded that the Liberian authorities that the closure of the MMU operations was not the end of the partnership, pledging the U.S.’ continued support to Liberia’s health care system.
Speaking on behalf of nine Ebola survivors from the MMU, Mr. Alvin Davis, a health worker, who survived Ebola, thanked the gallant men and women of the PHS, Liberian health workers and the W.H.O. and the U.S. Government for their support in the fight against Ebola here.
Having expressed appreciation to all anti-Ebola workers, Mr. Davis appealed to the Liberian and US Governments for assistance and scholarship opportunities to enable them further their education, citing financial constraints facing them.