WHO Africa Regional Director Praises Liberia’s Response to Ebola Fight

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The World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, has lavished praises on the robust response Liberians exhibited toward the on-going Ebola fight.

Though the country is yet to be declared Ebola-free, hopefully on May 9, the WHO senior official said that that national approach has now made Liberia move toward zero cases.

“I am very optimistic that on the 9th of May, wherever we will be, we will jumping up and down that Liberia has been declared Ebola-free. I am very confident of that.”

She spoke yesterday morning when she and her entourage, paid a visit with the outgoing Health Minister, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, and his senior staff at the Ministry of Health in Oldest Congo Town.

The WHO Africa Regional Director told the Health Ministry authority that the UN specialized body has learned a lot from Liberia’s experience, specifically on how to respond to the next Ebola epidemic.

“In WHO, we have learned a lot,” she stressed. She stated that in the event of a next outbreak, while WHO will be sending data managers and epidemiologists, they will also include social scientists, who know how to communicate with the communities from the very beginning of such outbreak.

The UN world body was heavily criticized by international media and humanitarian entities for doing little towards the response of the epidemic. WHO responded to the crisis almost six months after the world knew that the epidemic was raging in West Africa. It was exactly on August 8, four and half month into the epidemic, that WHO declared the Ebola epidemic “a global emergency.”

By this time, there was yet still no coordinated response plan from WHO. When it finally woke up, thousands of people had already died. There were internal changes within WHO; it affected their Liberia office, too. However, when WHO began responding, the international coordination response began yielding more fruits and the spread of the virus began to dwindle.  

Dr. Moeti also stated that she was pleased to come to Liberia at this “very positive moment” when things are working wonderfully toward putting an end to the Ebola epidemic in the country yea the sub-region, including Sierra Leone and Guinea, two of Liberia’s sisterly neighbors. She appreciated the “tremendous leadership” that outgoing Health Minister Dr. Gwenigale and Health Minister-designate Dr. Bernice Dahn have provided throughout the Ebola fight. She also praised President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for leading the Liberia team in the fight.

Before Dr. Moeti made her remarks, she was presented with a very beautiful embroidery gift by the Ministry of Health. She promised to share it with her husband on an occasion when they are lucky to meet. Her husband resides in Abidjan and she is always on the move because of the nature of her work.

Dr. Gwenigale had remarked: “Someone told me that you like blue so that’s why we made it blue. Please share it with your husband.”

He had earlier praised the interventions made by Dr. Nestor Ndayimerije and team of the WHO Liberia office. Dr. Gwenigale told Dr. Moeti that he had expressed his regrets to Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General when Dr. Ndayimerije was replaced.

Dr. Moeti, who is on a three-day first-time visit to Liberia since assuming that office as Africa Regional Director on February 1, is expected to pay a courtesy call on President Sirleaf today at her Foreign Ministry Office. Yesterday, Madam Moeti’s  itinerary was loaded with meetings, including visiting the Redemption Hospital and Zuma Town at St. Paul Bridge Community. She departs the country today after holding a joint press conference with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Her entourage at the MOH included staff of WHO Monrovia office, among them its new country representative, Dr. Alex Gasasira.

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