President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and United States Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac have dedicated a state-of-the-art 25-bed Ebola field hospital constructed in Charlesville, Margibi County, by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to provide care to healthcare workers, both international and Liberian, who may be infected with the Ebola virus
Known as the Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU), the facility would be considered as a safe haven for healthcare workers in the country who are on the frontlines of the fight against Ebola. The construction of the field hospital was financed by the American Government and implemented jointly by the U.S. military and the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
The dedication ceremony of the facility was held in Charlesville, near the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County last Wednesday, November 5, 2015. The MMU, which is primarily for healthcare workers as well as the 4,000 U.S troops expected to be deployed in the country, is in addition to 17 Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) that are under construction across the country as a result of the U.S. intervention in Liberia.
The facility is being staffed by a team of specialized officers from the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, which is playing an integral role in the overall US government response. The USPHS Commissioned Corps is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf joined U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac to dedicate the newly constructed 25-bed field hospital to be used solely for the treatment of healthcare workers who may become infected by the Ebola virus disease.
Speaking during the ceremony, President Sirleaf said the hospital represents a major contribution in the fight against the virus in Liberia. It also represents a true spirit of partnership between both governments.
“This facility represents a major contribution to the country’s fight against the further spread of the deadly Ebola virus disease that has hit our country so hard. This represents a true spirit of partnership and leaves hope for a structure that will enable Liberians fare for themselves when the partners shall have left after Ebola.”
She described the US government as a partner who recognizes and responds to the needs of the Liberian people and that the fruit of the partnership reaches out to the people it is meant to benefit.
President Sirleaf lauded healthcare workers for their sacrificial services to the country and its people by confronting a disease they knew very little about. She expressed happiness that those healthcare workers who may be infected can now receive quality care and treatment with a high hope of survival.
She also lauded the American government and people for coming to the aid of Liberia at a time when international response to the Ebola crisis was at its lowest ebb. She expressed the hope that the country is well on its way to beating back the further spread of the disease.
The Liberian leader noted that Liberians themselves are the main force preventing the further spread of the deadly virus, due to their adherence to measures announced by the Government, and for supporting all the measures meant to tackle the further spread of the disease.
Ambassador Malac, said the current role of the U.S. Government in Liberia’s fight against Ebola, including the construction of the treatment facility, is a symbol of the strong U.S.-Liberia relations and partnership.
“The U.S. is proud to be supporting Liberia and it is expected that our support will go further than the emergency period and interventions. I am glad that healthcare workers who may fall sick to Ebola can now get quality treatment right here in Liberia,” the Ambassador emphasized.
She indicated that Liberia had made progress and will continue to make progress in the fight against Ebola until the virus is finally eradicated from the country. She thanked the AFL and Liberians in general for their cooperation with the U.S. and other partners working in Liberia.
Since the outbreak of the virus, health workers have been the hardest hit with over 70 falling prey to the disease. These include Medical Doctors, Physician Assistants and Nurses. The construction of this facility, though it may be considered belated, will serve as a ‘safe haven,’ for these health workers who are still on the frontlines and dedicating their lives to the service of humanity.
Providing an overview of the facility, the Acting U.S. Deputy Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Scott F. Giberson, noted that the MMU is multifunctional and was reconfigured to meet the mission requirements specific to infectious disease treatment in Liberia.
“Although this is a clinical care unit, not usually intended for an infectious pathogen, the DoD and the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps worked in partnership to reconfigure the facility to function as an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU).
“In addition, experts from Medecin Sans Frontieres (MSF) were consulted on the reconfiguration, illuminating the multi-sector approach in support of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and the United States Agency for International Development Ebola Disaster Assistance Response Team, which is overseeing the overall U.S. Ebola response in the region,” he said.
Admiral Giberson said seventy officers, with diverse clinical and public health backgrounds, will bring safety and security to the brave men and women who are serving as frontlines heroes, and continue efforts of USAID, DoD, the government of Liberia and international partners to build capacity for additional care in the country.