As the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared Liberia free from the Ebola virus disease, the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has decommissioned the Chinese-built and managed 100-bed Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) and turned over the facility to the Liberian Government.
The 20-room Chinese ETU and its accessories which consists of more than 920,000 items including more than 1,500 kinds of medical instruments and materials is worth approximately US$7 million.
At the same time, Liberia and the People’s Republic of China have broken grounds for the renovation of the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Stadium in Paynesville City.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the decommissioning and ground breaking ceremonies took place on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at the Samuel K. Doe Stadium the venue that hosted the Chinese ETU for the last six months.
President Sirleaf, making remarks at the program, said witnessing the formal closing of another Ebola treatment unit is evidenced of the conclusion of those very difficult days between August and October 2014.
She recounted that one of the first countries to come to Liberia’s aid was the PRC, highlighting a chartered plane that brought the first huge consignment of medical supplies and equipment to begin the fight against Ebola on the orders of Chinese President Xi Jinping. “China, I want you to know that in those days you really responded to the very critical needs of Liberia,” she said.
The Liberian leader said WHO’s announcement on Saturday, May 9, now allows the government to proceed with the most important part of its agenda which is promoting development of the Liberian people.
She used the opportunity to thank the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military medical team who left their families to join in the fight against Ebola. “To you we want to say a big thank you on the behalf of the Liberian people.” She hoped that as they leave they should continue to consider Liberia a place to return.
President Sirleaf thanked all the local staff and said that with the additional skills they have acquired, they were now ready to serve their country; noting that various government parastatals have the responsibility to work with them to find out where they can be placed and continue to share their skills and contribute to the development of the country.
Handing over the facility to the Liberian Government, Chinese Ambassador His Excellency Zhang Yue said they were decommissioning the facility not only to call it an end to Ebola, but to start a journey to the future. He said rebuilding the country in the post-Ebola era is a top priority on the agenda of the Liberian Government and as a reliable partner and friend, China will continue to stand closely with Liberia in this process as usual.
Ambassador Yue promised that his country will assign more medical experts to the Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County, provide more technical training, experience exchange and collaborative research so as to assist Liberia restore and improve its public health and disease prevention system and prevent similar massive epidemic outbreaks in the future.
“Our experience in the past three decades taught us that development is fundamental to all for a nation,” the Chinese Ambassador stressed, noting that nothing can be firmly established without strong back up economic growth, let alone a sound public health system.”
He noted that as a friend and development partner, they stayed in Liberia during those difficult days and with Ebola gone, they will now join in the cooperation in areas like agriculture, education, infrastructure construction, manufacturing industry, among others.
The Chinese Ambassador said with the launch of the renovation of the SKD stadium, other Chinese-aid projects such as the Ministerial Complex, Annex to the Capitol Building and the Monrovia Vocational Training Center will get a boost. He assured that China will also promote more exchange of culture and people and upgrade the friendship and cooperative relations between the two countries to a new level.
Touching on the renovation of the SKD stadium, which was built by PRC in 1986, Ambassador Yue called it a symbol of China-Liberia friendship. “Today it also witnesses the enhanced China-Liberia partnership in the fight against Ebola and post-Ebola economic and social recovery. Ebola has gone and football must come back to life,” he said.
On behalf of the 80 local medical professionals and auxiliary staff at the ETU, Ms. Loretta N. Lormie, who has also worked as a medical intern and liaison officer, expressed appreciation for President Sirleaf’s resolute leadership and the immense contributions made by the People’s Republic of China in the fight against Ebola.
“It was them who gave us hands in our darkest period. It was them who fought with us side by side to the end. It was them who taught us that Liberians are never alone before any storm,” she stressed.
Welcoming the Liberian leader and guests to the program earlier, the PLA military medical team leader, Wang Shuqian, expressed delight and pride at being a part of the historic moment when Liberia was declared Ebola free. “We have fulfilled our solemn promise to help Liberia cover the last mile and win the battle against Ebola,” he said, adding that the Chinese ETU will go down in history as a new monument of China-Liberia friendship.
For the last six months, three batches of PLA military medical team of more than 350 medical staff have worked in the facility. The Chinese ETU served a total of 177 patients at its triage and admitted 110 patients. They also treated 10 confirmed cases, among which six patients recovered.