The first and only Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) constructed so far by the People’s Republic of China has been dedicated in Monrovia, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf describing the facility as what “looks like first class” treatment for the people of Liberia.
The Chinese ETU is a 100-bed facility that was built and will be operated by a medical contingent of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The ETU is situated at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.
Described as one of the best treatment centers in the country, the Chinese ETU is designed to meet high standards in the prevention and control of infectious diseases. With three batches of 500 medical staff, Chinese authorities said, the center will run for six months to isolate suspected Ebola patients and treat confirmed patients including United Nations staff who may get the virus.
The facility was dedicated by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was accompanied by an array of government officials, including outgoing Health Minister, Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale, and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Information, Youth and Sports, among others.
Heading a high-level Chinese delegation from China for the dedication ceremony was the Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the PRC, Cui Li, and the Director-General of Health Department, General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Ren Guoquan.
The head of the Chinese delegation, Cui Li, said the ETU built and staffed entirely by Chinese will be run and managed independently, something that is unprecedented both in the international aid to fight Ebola and China’s medical aid history.
She noted that the ETU mirrors the long-lasting friendship between China and Africa, which have shared the weal and woes over the past 50 years, and also represents the implementation of China’s Africa policy of “Sincerity, Real Results, Affinity and Good Faith,” proposed by the President of China, Xi Jinping.
In the preparation and building of the Center, Ms. Cui, who spoke through an interpreter, said her government sticks to the principle of “handle special cases with special methods when it comes to aiding Liberia’s fight” and fully respects the Liberian Government’s will and participation in the process.
“After President Xi’s announcement of the 4th round of assistance to the affected countries to fight the epidemic, we took just a week to transport the construction materials, medical equipment and 500 construction workers to Liberia in six chartered flights.”
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, extended heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the partnership and friendship. She said she looked forward to the service that will be rendered by the team at the new100-bed ETU.
“All of this could not have been done except with the endorsement and support of the Chinese Government led by the President, Xi Jinping, who gave full endorsement through the Ambassador and his staff,” she said, requesting Amb. Zhang Yue, to convey to President Xi Jinping and the Premier Li Kequiang thanks and appreciation on behalf of the Liberian people.
President Sirleaf recalled “the difficult days of July, August and September when Liberia was confronted with this unknown enemy, where some of the brave doctors and nurses, without proper equipment, tried to respond and ended up dying. There were others who got infected, and most abandoned the health facilities which meant that while there were hundreds dying of Ebola, there were also many others dying of other causes because there was no means to treat them.”
She noted that China was one of the first to respond immediately when the Liberian government began to appeal for global assistance. China responded by sending an aircraft with an assortment of anti-Ebola equipment, materials and drugs that enabled healthcare workers to respond to Ebola-affected people.
She indicated that the Chinese action prompted and encouraged other partners to join in the response exercise.
President Sirleaf noted that in the dedication of the facility, China has now joined others in sending a team to construct an ETU to enable Liberians have a place to take the sick and infected.
She described the newly constructed ETU as “exemplary” and commended China for this exceptional response. “As I look at the quality of the construction and the quality service that will be rendered, this looks like first-class treatment for our people,” President Sirleaf said, adding, “This is something commendable and exemplary, for which we will always be grateful.”
She also commended the Chinese medical contingent of the People’s Liberation Army for their diligence and hard work in being able to construct the facility.
Ren Guoquan, for his part, said the opening of the ETU, which took a month to construct, is the first international humanitarian relief project that is built, operated and managed by the Chinese PLA.
He said the development is significant for promoting Liberia’s capability to fight the Ebola disease, safeguarding Liberian people’s lives and health, and controlling the global spread of the Ebola epidemic.
“Together with the Liberian people, we have the determination, confidence and ability to tide over the difficulties and defeat the epidemic,” he said, adding that this will be a new milepost and will open a new chapter for the relationship between China and Liberia.