President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed delight that most Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) around Monrovia are experiencing a decline in patient intake. The President, however, warned Liberians to continue to follow the preventive measures specified by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoSHW) in order to break transmission of the disease, as there are still hotspots in some communities.
“I feel very good. The people are working well – doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers – they are all very vigilant and very efficient; more importantly, most of the ETUs don’t have patients,” the elated Liberian President told journalists following a tour of several ETUs around Monrovia yesterday.
She had toured those centers in order to assess conditions, including constraints, if any, and to thank healthcare workers, partners, and volunteers for their services to the country especially in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
The President’s visit took her to treatment units at ELWA-II, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), ELWA-III, Ministry of Defense, the three ETUs under construction at the Samuel Kayon Doe Sports Complex, and the National Ebola Command Center in Sinkor.
At ELWA-II, Dr. Jerry Brown, head of the treatment facility, informed President Sirleaf that as at Tuesday, November 18, there were only 34 patients at that 100-bed facility. At least 14 patients were discharged on Monday, November 17, most of them from Rivercess County.
Rivercess County experienced an outbreak recently and 24 suspected cases were transferred to Dr. Brown’s unit.
He confirmed that there is a decline in the number of Ebola cases as compared to previous weeks. “For the past one week, we’ve had a total of seven admissions on the average – two admissions a day, sometimes one or no patients,” he told the President.
Dr. Brown’s ELWA-II has discharged over 200 Ebola survivors, the largest amount from any ETU in Liberia.
On plans to increase the survival rate of Ebola patients, Dr. Brown told the President that he would shortly begin to extract plasma from Ebola survivors that will be discharged from the unit to treat infected patients with the serum. He noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved his treatment unit for the study.
At the MSF ELWA-III, President Sirleaf was met on arrival by the Project Coordinator Azaad Alocco, who confirmed that Ebola cases were declining. He said with a bed capacity of over 140, they had only 25 patients.
Mr. Alocco proposed that with the reduction of the Ebola caseload in Monrovia, it would be appropriate to send human resources to communities and counties considered as hotspots to contain the disease, and not have cases referred to Monrovia. “We think our epidemiological analysis is that we should try to stop the contamination in the counties and hotspots, rather than transferring cases to Monrovia,” he recommended.
He disclosed that an MSF team is in Rivercess County along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate a recent outbreak there and possibly establish an ETU or a transit center there rather than transport patients to Monrovia.
At the Ministry of Defense (MOD) ETU, which has been in operation for just two-weeks, the head of the unit, Dr. Soka Moses, informed President Sirleaf that already 16 patients have been admitted. However, he is poised to discharge his first survivor.
The unit is being run by a Cuban staff of 20 doctors and 29 nurses, 177 Liberian staff; while a Swedish team is assisting with management, maintenance, and logistics.
Before touring the MOD-ETU, the Liberian leader made stops at three ETUs under construction at the S.K. Doe Sports Complex. There, the World Food Program (WFP) is constructing two 100-bed units each to be run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the German Red Cross.
The third 100-bed ETU at the sports complex is being constructed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and is expected to be opened shortly. Already, a 160-man medical contingent of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is in Monrovia to operate the clinic as well as train local medical personnel.
The President’s final stop was at the National Ebola Command Center where she was led on a guided tour.
On each stop, President Sirleaf thanked the healthcare workers, partners, and volunteers for their services to the country. “We would like to appreciate all of you for making this big sacrifice to come and join us to fight this problem and for your service to the country,” she told everyone.