Liberia is left with less than ten days to be declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO) if no new cases of the deadly Ebola virus emerge anywhere in the country.
Due to the tremendous anxiety building up to May 9 when Liberia is declared Ebola free, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dubbed it the ‘Magic Day’.
President Sirleaf, who has admitted to religiously counting down the days to the total eradication of the deadly Ebola virus, is aware that the entire country is also looking forward with both anxiety and excitement to the ‘Magic Day’ when Liberia will be declared Ebola free.
The President bared her anxiety and that of the nation when she received a high-level United States delegation from the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday at her Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia.
The delegation was led by the United States Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Dr. Vivek Murthy, whose position is the Liberian equivalent of Chief Medical Officer.
President Sirleaf indicated that Liberians need to celebrate their triumph on that ‘Magic Day’ because it is their combined hard work that has allowed the country to reach thus far.
She recognized the concerns being raised about the significance of Liberia being declared Ebola free while its two bordering neighbors, Guinea and Sierra Leone, are still struggling to contain the virus.
The US delegation has come at a time when the country is preparing to evaluate what it has gone through during the Ebola crisis, said the President. “We appreciate the role of the U.S. Government through its many institutions, including the military, Public Health Service officers, USAID and others during the fight against the Ebola virus.
“You have come at a time when we can just say thanks for all that the United States has done and continues to do to rid the country of Ebola,” Madam Sirleaf said.
She made it known that the country is open to suggestions on how to improve the partnership with all of its friends, including the United States as it looks forward to rebuilding the healthcare system.
She also expressed satisfaction over the on-going U.S. assessment at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center that seeks to improve conditions at the hospital and facilitate the provision of specialized services for Liberians.
The President urged greater cooperation and partnership from the US government and other multilateral institutions during the post-Ebola period to ensure efficient and effective implementation of the various programs and interventions that will be captured in the country’s National Recovery Plan.
Speaking earlier, Surgeon General Murthy said he was happy to be in Liberia for the countdown to the final defeat of the Ebola virus. “We are glad to have partnered with you and are also looking forward to reaching the ‘Magic Day’ with the Liberian people.
“We also know that there is still a lot of work to be done with the healthcare system even after Ebola is gone and you can count on the partnership of the Public Health Services officers,” he promised.
The U.S. Surgeon General indicated that he was interested in what happens with primary healthcare infrastructures and remains eager to partner with the government in addressing some of the challenges.
He called on the Liberian government to draw from some of the experiences of the U.S. Healthcare Services by focusing on mental health and seek to build a system that promotes both clinical prevention and community prevention as well.
“You must build on prevention while rebuilding the healthcare system,” Surgeon General Murthy admonished.
He expressed satisfaction that his team, the U.S. Public Health Service officers, was able to run the Monrovia Medical Unit that provided treatment, psychosocial and psychological support during the Ebola outbreak.
US Ambassador Deborah Malac, who led the team to the meeting, briefed President Sirleaf about their tour of the JFK Medical Center and the pending assessment of the facilities.
She disclosed that a team from the U.S is expected next week to sit with government actors and the in-country U.S. team on how to strengthen the hospital, including the establishment of a public health laboratory.
Ambassador Malac reassured President Sirleaf of U.S. cooperation and continuous partnership during the recovery phase of the crisis.