Over US$375M Needed to Fight Ebola

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The Government of Liberia said it needs more than US$375 million to adequately fight the deadly Ebola virus disease, which has killed more people in Liberia than Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Those two neighboring states are also hardly hit by the disease.

The disclosure for more money was made Sunday, September 21, by Acting Minister of Finance and Development Planning, at the opening of Island Clinic Ebola treatment unit, which has a 150-bed capacity.

As Minister Amara M. Konneh told the audience that the refurbished Island Clinic Ebola treatment unit was 100 percent funded by the Liberia Government — at a cost he didn’t say — he stated, however, that the over US$375 needed for the fight is not in the coffer of the government.

“The Government of Liberia can do more but it would require a robust international approach from our partners,” he added.

On September 18, Min. Konneh was part of a ceremony in which he lauded the World Bank for granting Liberia a whopping US$52 million, which according to the Bank is intended to finance Ebola-containment efforts, as well as help families and communities to cope with the economic impact of the crisis, and rebuild and strengthen essential public health system.

The Liberian Finance Minister said while it is good to have the treatment units, the social mobilization aspect of it is very important as through it people are told  what to do in order to prevent the disease.

Speaking earlier, the Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Tolbert G. Nyenswah, said the refurbished complex, which is named Oniyama Specialist Hospital, is one of the best Ebola treatment units in Africa and is also a “state of the art” facility.

Major works are still ongoing on and in the building but it's no time to wait as more and more people are dying from the virus and a lot more are being turned back because of lack of space and beds in three existing facilities in Monrovia. All the three facilities have less than 100 beds. One of them is managed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), while the other two are run and managed by the Liberian Government.

The center immediately began taking in patients by 3 p.m. Sunday just as the official opening program was climaxing.

Asst. Min. Nyenswah also disclosed that the Liberian Government would construct 16 more treatment centers around the country. He also stated that by the end of next week, there would be six laboratories to do Ebola testing. This is critical because most patients and family members have to wait for three or four days before test results come back.

Dr. Bernice Dahn, Deputy Health Minister for Health Services and Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, stated that the Oniyama Specialist Hospital was expecting over 50 Ebola patients, who were already at the Redemption Hospital’s withholding center.

Dr. Dahn and others want to return Redemption and other major hospitals and health facilities now closed because of the disease, to their traditional duties of caring for other non-Ebola sicknesses.

 The specialist hospital was officially declared opened by Dr. (MD) Edward B. McClain, Minister of Presidential Affairs,  Who represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Dr. McClain said he was glad that the preventative messages are seeping in. He also commended the taxi drivers, who, too, are enforcing the “no touching” measure in their taxis.

He told the audience that tremendous help was now coming to Liberia and everyone should get involved in stopping the  transmission of the virus.

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