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U.S. officials gain insight into Ebola Response

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaDonations from U.S. private-sector foundations, companies, and individuals have been vital to the response that is helping to bring the Ebola outbreak under control in Liberia. 

Some officials from two key foundations – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation – visited Liberia January 17-19 to see how their organizations’ contributions are being used to support the Ebola response.  Earlier, they stopped in Guinea and Sierra Leone to assess response efforts in those countries.

According to a press release, the foundation teams kicked off the Liberian portion of their visit on January 17, 2015 and met with Assistant Minister of Health, Tolbert Nyenswah, and Deputy Minister of Finance, Matthew Flomo in Monrovia.

They toured the site where the new national EOC is being built near the Ministry of Health.  The CDC Foundation group later joined U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac and several staff members from CDC Team Liberia and Health team for a business dinner.  The Ambassador commended the two foundations for their exemplary work in supporting the Ebola response.   

The CDC Foundation team met with CDC Team Liberia to discuss the current outbreak status in Montserrado County on January 18, where more than half of all Liberia’s Ebola cases are reported.  CDC epidemiologists explained how the county response is using a new decentralized “sector” approach that will allow for more nimble and rapid investigations of Ebola cases. 

The CDC Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to connect CDC with private-sector organizations and individuals to help make the world healthier and safer through public health programs.  Since 1995, the CDC Foundation has provided $450 million to support CDC’s work, launched more than 750 programs around the world and built a network of individuals and organizations committed to supporting CDC and public health. 

Since the beginning of the Ebola epidemic last March, the CDC Foundation has worked tirelessly with private-sector donors to provide much-needed project support, supplies, and equipment for use in West Africa.  Examples include infection control tools, hiring of locally employed staff, exit screening tools and supplies at airports, such as thermal scanners to detect fever, and tents and living supplies for people who are being monitored for symptoms of Ebola.  In Liberia, the CDC-Foundation recently provided the Ministry of Health with 82 trucks and 5 ambulances to assist with transport.  

“Our objective during this visit was to see what’s being done with funding provided by private-sector donors,” said Charles Stokes, President and Chief Executive Officer for the CDC Foundation. “There are many needs to be addressed, and donations from our friends in the private sector give us ways to deliver resources quickly and flexibly.” 

Mr. Stokes was accompanied by CDC-Foundation colleagues Reema Bhakta, senior program officer; Pierce Nelson, vice president for communications; and David Snyder, contract writer and photographer. 

The CDC Foundation team was joined during portions of the visit by Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Director of the West Africa Ebola Response Program for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which donated $100 million for Ebola response efforts last October.  A portion of these funds has been used to support construction costs for Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. When the project is completed, EOCs will be operational in Liberia at the national level, and in all 15 counties.

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