A Chinese medical team comprising 160 military officers have arrived in Liberia to operate Ebola Treatment Units built at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex by their government as part of its contribution to tackling the Ebola disease, which has claimed over 5,000 lives in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The 160 medical staffers include medics, experts, epidemiologists, doctors, nurses, engineers and technicians, and are the first batch of the total of 500 medical staffers, who are the elite medical squad of the People’s Liberation Army of China.
The team, according to their head, Wang Yungui, are trained and well acquainted with the Ebola virus and have participated in some rescue missions around the world.
Speaking to reporters during the welcoming ceremony at the SKD Sports Complex over the weekend, Chinese Ambassador to Liberia, Zhang Yue, said the 500 medical staff will arrive in the country in three batches.
Amb. Zhang: “We are building ETUs that will be operated and managed by China. They are solid and not mere tents as you can see, and we will use them to treat other diseases in the future even if Ebola is eradicated from here in Liberia.”
He said the team will also train local health workers to be capacitated enough in fighting the disease.
The Chinese diplomat put the cost of the ETU at around US$41 million, which he said is the highlight of China’s fourth batch of assistance totaling US$82 million to African countries for the fight against Ebola.
He also assured everyone of China’s commitment to providing the three Ebola affected countries with 60 ambulances, 100 motorcycles, 10,000 healthcare kits, 150,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPEs).
In addition to the mentioned logistical supplies, Amb. Zhang also said China will provide other urgently needed supplies such as hospital beds, pickup trucks, incinerators, etc, among which about US$4.9 million worth of materials will be allotted to Liberia.
He recounted that in April, August and September, China sent three batches of emergency assistance worth more than US$40 million to countries affected by Ebola in West Africa.
Furthermore, the ambassador recalled that on November 4 the China-Africa Development Fund donated US$450,000 special fund to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to help fight the virus.
“Up to now, China’s total assistance to Africa has reached US$122 million, covering 13 African countries as well as international and regional organizations such as the UN, WHO and the AU,” he said. “It is the first time for China to carry out such a large-scale operation in its history of responding to global non-traditional security crises.”
Specifically for Liberia, the Chinese Ambassador said his government has provided over US$50 million worth of assistance in cash and supplies since the first outbreak of Ebola epidemic.
According to him, Chinese Embassy and companies in Liberia have also donated more than US$300,000 worth of materials to Liberian Government agencies, NGOs and communities to fight Ebola.
He disclosed that China’s response to the crisis in affected countries does not only focus on treatment and training, but also on addressing both the symptoms and root causes.
“In the fourth batch of assistance China does not only intensify anti-epidemic aid to the three Ebola stricken countries, but also endeavors to help the epidemic afflicted areas and other African countries to increase their institutional capacity building in public health security in post-Ebola year,” he stressed.
The Chinese medical team was received by Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan who, with special emphasis, commended China for its tremendous assistance to Liberia prior to and during the Ebola crisis. He said China is a true friend that is here to stay.