The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the FORD Foundation on Tuesday, September 09, donated three brand new Ford Express pickups to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to help with the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Liberia. Value at about US$105,000, the three vehicles were hand delivered to Liberia’s Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale at the MOHSW in Congo Town.
Presenting the keys to Dr. Gwenigalie, the OSIWA-Liberia country officer, Madam Massa S. S. Crayton, said the donation was the FORD Foundation and OSIWA’s way of answering a national call to kick Ebola out of Liberia.
She also said the donation of the vehicles is part of OSIWA and FORD’s Ebola response.
The OSIWA Country Officer expressed the hope that the vehicles would be used for the intended purpose during the Ebola crisis for contact tracing, transportation and other Ebola-activities being carry out by the Ministry of Health and the Ebola Task Force.
“It is our hope that these vehicles will be used for the intended purpose in order to save the lives of people infected by the deadly Ebola virus,” said Madam Crayton.
Receiving the keys for the vehicles from Madam Crayton, Health Minister Dr. Gwenigale said he is overjoyed for the donation by OSIWA and the FORD Foundation.
“Part of the challenges we have in dealing with this Ebola crisis is the lack of adequate logistics. We have limited transportation to move materials and people from one place to another and these pickups are coming in at the time when all of the counties are asking us for transport,” he said.
“I extend thanks and appreciation, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to the representatives of FORD Foundation and the OSIWA family for this timely gesture.”
Minister Gwenigalie instructed that though it was the Ministry of Health that signed the grant agreement with the FORD Foundation and OSIWA, the vehicles are for Ebola response and they must be used for that purpose.
The Health Minister also instructed his Assistant Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, to work with General Services Agency (GSA) Director General Madam Mary Broh to ensure that the vehicles are registered as government property.
“And it must be noted that we have received these items and they must be used for the purpose for which they are intended.”
The Health Minister immediately turned the keys over to Assistant Minister Tolbert Nyenswah who in turn thanked OSIWA and the FORD Foundation for the timely gesture.
“We thank OSIWA and FORD Foundation and wish to note here that we are strategically putting all mechanisms into place in the various counties to deal with this Ebola crisis.
I am happy that you have made this donation this morning because it will help ease some of the logistical challenges facing the Ministry of Health and the Ebola Task Force, including the government,” said Minister Nyenswah.
He observed that there is mounting pressure on the Ministry of Health from the various counties for vehicles and other suppliers.
“The request for supplies is enormous because we have people taking care of the treatment unit, ambulance crew, community awareness crew and those taking care of the dead, amongst many others,” Nyenswah added.
Present at the ceremony was Deputy Health Minister Matthew T. K. Flomo and the Coordinator of the Ebola Task Force, Mr. Dorbor Jallah. Also present was Deputy Police Director for Operations Col. Abraham Kromah, while on the OSIWA team was the Program Coordinator Madam Jackie M. Eastman, Administrative and Finance Associate Mr. Rufus Ballah and the driver Mr. Julius Ke-Leay.
The deadly Ebola virus has already killed over 1,089 people in Liberia alone, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. It said that the virus has killed over 2,100 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria and infected over 4,000 people in West Africa. Ebola has no known cure, but the US-made experimental Zmapp drug is being tested on patients and showing positive signs, health experts said.
OSIWA is part of the larger Open Society Foundations global network and one of four foundations in Africa. The Foundation is a grant-giving and advocacy foundation that works in ten countries in the region (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone).
OSIWA focuses on three programmatic areas — political governance, economic governance, law, justice and human rights. Its goals are to help improve government institutions by making them stronger and more accountable to their citizens; to help ensure public service delivery and an equitable distribution and transparent management of natural resources ; and to help promote respect for human rights and rule of law.