President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has paid homage to Liberians, who have lost their lives as a result of the deadly Ebola virus disease that was confirmed in the country recently.
President Sirleaf spoke during a visit to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Wednesday, April 9, to appreciate the leadership of the Ministry, international partners, and health workers who are fighting to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus that recently spilled over to Liberia.
She expressed condolences to the bereaved families and those affected by the Ebola virus and at the same time expressed appreciation to all who have worked and continue to address this serious health problem.
“On behalf of the Liberian people, we want to say to the task force, thank you so much, for all that you have done,” she said, urging all Liberians including foreigners within our borders to work together to contain the situation.
President Sirleaf stressed that since the virus was announced in Liberia, the Minister of Health, Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale and the task force, have kept her and the country fully informed about the situation and how it is being addressed.
The Liberian leader praised the international community, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Medicines Sans Frontier (MSF), United States Embassy, among others, all of whom have made a big difference since the outbreak.
“Those who have helped out here to contain the situation in Liberia, we want to say thank you,” she stressed, emphasizing that all of them have been timely and effective in their response which has halted the spread of the virus.
She urged the population to follow the advice of the Ministry of Health’s technical team, task force and its partners as cooperation is necessary to ensure that the virus is contained.
President Sirleaf welcomed the sub-regional health ministers to Liberia, in advance of their meeting on Friday, April 11. She hoped that as they meet, they will be able to share with Liberia their own experiences that addressed deadly diseases like Ebola. She pointed out that their presence here and carrying out their business as usual has given a lot of confidence to everybody that the situation is being managed.
Speaking earlier, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Nestor Ndayimirje, on behalf of the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, expressed the organization’s commitment to provide full support to the countries affected by the Ebola virus and to make sure that this disease is defeated.
He said the WHO Regional Office is supporting this regional effort because all the countries within the region are committed to fighting health emergencies.
Dr. Ndayimirje disclosed that a number of technical advisors and consultants have arrived in the country and are working with the Ministry of Health’s technical team, task force and partners to support the country’s efforts.
He commended the Government of Liberia for the leadership provided in timely responding to the problem when it was first detected. He reiterated that though this disease is deadly and known especially in the African region, no country has closed its borders. “Though it was challenging, they manage the epidemic and stopped it. So there is no doubt that like other countries in the region, Liberia will be able to stop Ebola quickly,” he predicted.
The WHO Country Representative emphasized that Ebola can be prevented; however, the problem is to fight fear, panic and denial which if done, will contain the disease. “Stay away from a patient who has died or his/her body fluids and avoid eating meat from dead animals,” he warned.
United States Ambassador, Deborah Malac, expressed thanks and appreciation to the Ministry of Health’s technical team, task force and partners who have been working so diligently over the past several weeks to contain the epidemic.
She added that fighting fear, panic and denial is extremely important in efforts to contain the disease. The U.S. Government, through its Embassy continues to put out messaging that provides accurate medical information about the disease to the public that will combat fear, panic and denial.
“We are continuing with business as usual at our Embassy and are encouraging others to do so as well,” she said, adding that the Embassy is pleased to contribute to the efforts by bringing to the country experts from the Center for Disease Control, laboratory technicians funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, and other experts expected to be funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Ambassador Malac expressed confidence in the ability of Health Minister, Dr. Gwenigale and his team, which she admitted has been challenging; but noted that working together, “we can all put this outbreak behind us by putting out accurate information to people.