Madam Deborah R. Malac succeeded Linda Thomas-Greenfield in September of 2012 as United States Ambassador to Liberia. She, like her predecessors, has represented US interest and worked diligently to continue nurturing the bilateral relations between her country and Liberia. Like Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, whose administration saw the revamping of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberia Coast Guard, Ambassador Malac will be remembered, first and foremost, for her humanitarian role in the devastating health crisis Liberia and its neighbors faced in 2014.
When Ebola worsened beginning in August 2014, making Liberia the hardest hit country, Ambassador Deborah Malac happened to be in the United States attending various meetings including the US-Liberia Education Dialogue, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), now referred to as Mandela Washington Fellowship, and the US-Africa Leaders Summit. Upon completing these meetings in August 2014, she, without delay or fear of the disease, immediately returned to Liberia, helping to restore hope in Liberians and urging them to be resilient.
She quickly contacted her government seeking emergency support to provide capacity to the Liberian government to fight the disease. Through her advocacy, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sent the first batch of 500 health personnel to Liberia with laboratory equipment for testing. In addition, President Barrack Obama deployed 4,000 military personnel to Liberia, many of whom were trained health and medical personnel. They quickly built Ebola Treatment Units in Bomi, Montserrado and Nimba Counties and parts of southeastern Liberia.
Amidst the devastating crisis, which caused people, including health and medical personnel, to drop dead everywhere, Ambassador Malac herself could not remain in Monrovia but traveled across the country, including the Ebola affected counties, to ensure that the assistance provided by the government and people of the United States was making a positive and substantial difference in the fight against the deadly virus.
In order to prepare Liberia adequately for future outbreaks of any epidemic, the US government, during Ambassador Malac’s tenure, established a CDC presence in Liberia, fully equipped with the necessary staff and equipment.
Besides her dynamic role in the successful combat against the deadly Ebola outbreak, Ambassador Malac, during her tenure, freely and constantly provided encouragement to Liberians in the fight against corruption, and in the struggle for national development. In addition to inspiring foreign investment, she also encouraged the government to prioritize and stimulate private domestic investment above and beyond the concessions. She also served as an advocate for the Liberia Business Association.
On corruption, she has been frank to admit that it is endemic in Liberia, excusing no sector. She also encouraged Liberians to consider development as a process that takes time and requires everyone’s effort, and not government alone.
There is a saying that “Life is not about making an income but making an impact; and not about getting and having, but giving.” The Daily Observer is of the view that Ambassador Malac’s service here, especially during the time the country was under an intense and devastating medical attack, is something that this nation and its people should always remember with gratitude. Remember that during the Ebola period some ambassadors fled the country and advised their governments to shut their doors. Not the US Ambassador. This, in fact, caused former Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan to question the “African Solidarity” that African nations profess to have with one another. He could not, he said, understand why some African countries had stigmatized Liberia and closed their borders to the affected nations.
Ambassador Malac truly deserves the high honor bestowed upon her by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
We at the Daily Observer call on all Liberians to join us in wishing Ambassador Deborah R. Malac Godspeed in her new assignments.