President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced here Wednesday that Liberia has started another countdown, roughly a week after the country’s lone confirmed Ebola patient Ruth Tugbeh, died with no new case reported since her passing.
In a nationwide address yesterday at her Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia, she reminded citizens and residents that the country faced a small set-back in its progression in the Ebola fight, when a new case was emerged at a time Liberia had counted 28 days against the 42 days countdown in anticipation to be declared Ebola freed.
President Sirleaf said on March 5, Liberia had counted at least 28 days with only 14 short of the required 42 days without a new case.
She regretted however that unfortunately, the country faced a small setback in its progression, as one of its citizens, who had been tested Ebola positive [died on March 25].
The victim, late Ruth Tugbeh of Caldwell died while being catered to at an Ebola Treatment Unit here considered being one of the best.
Officials have not been emphatic over what may have caused the 44 year old victim to get infected; but she was reported to be a girlfriend of an Ebola survivor residing in New Kru Town.
President Sirleaf however said because to date, there have been no new cases reported, and government is continuing its vigorous contact tracing and support for all those under observation, Liberia has started a new countdown.
“I am confident that the Incidence Management System team which was set up to coordinate our response and their local and international partners have the experience and expertise to contain and bring this outbreak to an end,” she said.
But the Liberian leader has at the same time asked citizens and residents to continue to cooperate and abide by health protocols which they are already familiar with.
During the deadliest periods of the Ebola crisis here, she said Liberia asked the world to join in the fight and they did, and has expressed Liberia’s appreciation for their continued help while efforts are being made to get global partnership to support a regional effort that would set the three affected Mano River Union countries free of this disease.
She recalled that leaders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea on March 3, met with partners in Brussels, and will meet with more partners again in Washington, DC this month to present a regional recovery program and seek their support.
She has meanwhile re-emphasized her administration’s position to making the rebuilding of the country’s health system a primary concern, as she promised the re-positioning of Liberia’s biggest public referral hospital, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
Having experienced that vulnerabilities exposed at the height of the outbreak, she said government continues to lift the rebuilding of the health system as a primary concern.
President Sirleaf says government is implementing a ten-year program of training health care professionals, improving and expanding services at primary and secondary healthcare centers, upgrading county hospitals and establishing three regional hospitals.
“We are emphasizing the re-positioning of JFK to meet its envisioned role as a national referral center,” she said.
The Liberian leader has meanwhile noted that the administration over the remaining years will need to be made stronger to underpin its determination for more timely and effective implementation of its overall development objective.
She promised that the administration will continue to do its part in making it easier to do business by reducing the bureaucratic hurdles thereby creating a more conducive and friendly business environment, by ensuring that the tax regime is fair and allows businesses to expand.
She said government is strengthening the linkage between concessions and technical and vocational training centers to train people for available jobs aimed at expanding youth empowerment programs, especially through technical vocational education and training.
The President at the same time disclosed that Liberia’s programs for road, power, ports and water and sanitation improvements are now restarted, describing them as backbone for expanding the economy and improving the lives of the people.
In closing, President Sirleaf applauded Nigerians who she said have strengthened the resolve of all African nations to continue on the democratic path that ensures long lasting peace and sustainable development across the African continent.
By Winston W. Parley