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Pres. Sirleaf seeks global fight against Ebola

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has again pleaded with countries around the world to join the ongoing fight against the Ebola virus disease.

“This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake,” President Sirleaf stressed; adding that the disease respects no borders.

“The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world”; the Liberian leader reminded.

The Executive Mansion says President Sirleaf made the assertion in a “Letter to the World” aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Sunday, October 19, 2014.

She said Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, noting that as global citizens, the world has a duty not to leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defense.

The Liberian leader urged governments, international organizations, financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, politicians and ordinary people on the street or in any corner of the world, that all have a stake in the battle against Ebola.

“The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbors, from experiencing another national tragedy,” the Liberian leader urged, quoting Henrik Ibsen that “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.”

She indicated that initially the international reaction to the crisis was inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency, but notes that  now, the world has woken up, adding: “The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away.”

President Sirleaf reiterated that the fight against the Ebola virus disease requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise.

Speaking about the devastation that the virus has particularly inflicted on Liberia, President Sirleaf said in just six months, “The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge”, while reminding that this would have been the case whether the confrontation was with another infectious disease, or a natural disaster.

The Liberian President indicated that over 2,000 Liberians have died, some who are children struck down in the prime of their youth, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters or best friends, including many brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments.

However, President Sirleaf stressed that Liberians are a resilient people and as such, have the capacity as global citizens to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. “History”, she said, “has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need.”


 

President Sirleaf writes global community – Letter for BBC Radio:

Dear World

In just over six months, Ebola has managed to bring my country to a standstill.  We have lost over 2,000 Liberians. Some are children struck down in the prime of their youth. Some were fathers, mothers, brothers or best friends. Many were brave health workers that risked their lives to save others, or simply offer victims comfort in their final moments.

There is no coincidence Ebola has taken hold in three fragile states – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all battling to overcome the effects of interconnected wars. In Liberia, our civil war ended only eleven years ago. It destroyed our public infrastructure, crushed our economy and led to an exodus of educated professionals. A country that had some 3,000 qualified doctors at the start of the war was dependent by its end on barely three dozen. In the last few years, Liberia was bouncing back. We realized there was a long way to go, but the future was looking bright.

Now Ebola threatens to erase that hard work. Our economy was set to be larger and stronger this year, offering more jobs to Liberians and raising living standards. Ebola is not just a health crisis – across West Africa, a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe as harvests are missed, markets are shut and borders are closed.

The virus has been able to spread so rapidly because of the insufficient strength of the emergency, medical and military services that remain under-resourced and without the preparedness to confront such a challenge. This would have been the case whether the confrontation was with Ebola, another infectious disease, or a natural disaster.

But one thing is clear. This is a fight in which the whole world has a stake. This disease respects no borders. The damage it is causing in West Africa, whether in public health, the economy or within communities  – is already reverberating throughout the region and across the world.

The international reaction to this crisis was initially inconsistent and lacking in clear direction or urgency. Now finally, the world has woken up. The community of nations has realized they cannot simply pull up the drawbridge and wish this situation away. This fight requires a commitment from every nation that has the capacity to help – whether that is with emergency funds, medical supplies or clinical expertise.

I have every faith in our resilience as Liberians, and our capacity as global citizens, to face down this disease, beat it and rebuild. History has shown that when a people are at their darkest hour, humanity has an enviable ability to act with bravery, compassion and selflessness for the benefit of those most in need.

From governments to international organisations, financial institutions to NGOs, politicians to ordinary people on the street in any corner of the world, we all have a stake in the battle against Ebola. It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves against an enemy that they do not know, and against whom they have little defence.

The time for talking or theorizing is over. Only concerted action will save my country, and our neighbours, from experiencing another national tragedy. The words of Henrik Ibsen have never been truer: “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.”

Yours sincerely,
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

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