President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received in audience a high-level United States medical delegation from the Department of Health and Human Services led by the Surgeon General of the United States of America, Vice Admiral Dr. Vivek Murthy. The U.S. Surgeon General is equivalent to that of the Chief Medical Officer of the Republic of Liberia.
The visiting delegation was accompanied to the Foreign Ministry by the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac.
According to an Executive Mansion release, during the meeting held at the Foreign Ministry office on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, President Sirleaf welcomed the U.S. Surgeon General and delegation to Liberia and indicated that the team had come at a time when the country was preparing to evaluate what it has gone through due to the Ebola crisis.
She emphasized that the country is looking forward to what she called the ‘Magic Day” when the country will be declared Ebola free and thanked and U.S. Surgeon General for the role his personnel played during the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease.
“We appreciate the role played by the U.S. Government through its many institutions, including the military, Public Health Services officers, USAID and others during the fight against Ebola. You have come at a time when we can just say thanks for all that the United States has and continue to do to raid the country of Ebola,” the Liberian leader stressed.
President Sirleaf told the visitors that the country is opened to suggestions on how to improve the partnership with all of its friends including the United States as it looks forward to rebuilding the healthcare system.
She also expressed satisfaction over on-going U.S. assessment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center that seeks to improve conditions at the hospital and also facilitate the provision of specialized services for the Liberian people.
She commended Ambassador Deborah Malac and all U.S. institutions for their services rendered Liberia and its people and called for even greater cooperation and partnership during the post-Ebola period to ensure efficient and effective implementation of the various programs and interventions that will be captured in the country’s National Recovery Plan.
Deputy Minister-designate Tolbert Nyenswah provided general updates on the current state of affairs regarding the Ebola situation.
Speaking earlier, Surgeon General Murthy said he was happy to be in Liberia at the time the countdown was on to finally defeating the virus. “We are glad to have partnered with you and are also looking forward to reaching the “Magic Day” with the Liberian people. We also know that there is still a lot of work to be done with the healthcare system even after Ebola is gone and you can count on the partnership of the Public Health Services officers,” he promised the Liberian President.
The U.S. Surgeon General indicated that he was interested in what happens with primary healthcare infrastructures and remains eager to partner with the government in addressing some of the challenges in primary healthcare.
Surgeon General Murthy called on the government to draw from some of the experiences of the U.S. Healthcare Services by focusing on mental health and seek to build a system that promotes both clinical prevention and community prevention as well. “You must build on prevention while rebuilding the healthcare system,” he cautioned President Sirleaf and team.
He expressed satisfaction that his team was able to run the Monrovia Medical Unit that provided treatment, psycho-social and psychological support during the Ebola outbreak which was run by the U.S. Public Health Service officers.
Making a brief intervention, Ambassador Malac briefed President Sirleaf about a tour of the JFK Medical Center and the pending assessment of the facilities there.
She announced that a team from the U.S comes in next week to sit with government actors and the in-country U.S. team on how to strengthen the hospital, including the establishment of a public health laboratory at the facility.
Ambassador Malac reassured President Sirleaf about the U.S. cooperation and continuous partnership and support during the recovery phase of the crisis.
In an earlier development, President Sirleaf met with a delegation of UNMEER that included the SRSG Karen Landgren, out-going head Mr. Ismail Cheikh Ahmed, newly appointed acting head, Peter Graaff.
Mr. Ahmed informed President Sirleaf that he has been appointed by the UN Secretary General as his Envoy to Yemen and also appointed Mr. Peter Graaff who has been involved with managing the Ebola crisis from the United Nation end as the new acting head of UNMEER.
“I have come to show appreciation and to say thanks for the partnership that has brought us this far. I trust that Mr. Graaff who has been with us all this time will properly step in my shoes even as we approach the end date of the crisis,” Mr. Ahmed indicated.
He observed that Liberia has demonstrated its capacity to manage the Ebola situation and other infectious outbreaks that may occur by the way it handled the single case that emerged as the first countdown was on.
President Sirleaf thanked Mr. Ahmed for servicing Liberia so well and for his new preferment and welcomed Mr. Graaff to his new assignment, expressing her confidence in the commitment and competence of both men to serve when called upon. “Your new assignment is a very important one that requires your demonstrated skills and experience,” she concluded.