On behalf of the World Bank Group, it an honour and my great pleasure to be present here today at the event commemorating the declaration of the end of the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia. This tragic outbreak will leave an unforgettable mark in Liberia's history due to its severity and challenges the world had never seen before. An old Tibetan proverb says "Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength", and it is the strength of the Liberian people that we are celebrating today.
Ebola-free Liberia is the heroic achievement of frontline health workers, families and communities, the government and development partners. I vividly remember the time when the outbreak got out of control. Uncertainty, panic, deaths, isolation, anger are the words to characterize those days in August. The laudable turnaround of the situation is the result of the strong country's leadership and everyone uniting to fight against the threat to humanity. Everyone, communities, health workers, civil societies, the government, private sector, and development partners, joined hands to stop the virus from encroaching to Liberia's towns and villages. Every case had to be found, every contact identified and every sick person cared for. I remember meeting the group of very young Liberian community workers who isolated and cared for the family in District number 7 in Monrovia after several family members died from Ebola -there are thousands of stories that need to be told, written and kept for the future generations. It was a heroic leadership and solidarity and we are proud to be a part of it.
The good news did not come soon enough. We also use this time to pay tribute to those almost 4, 700 people who lost their lives as a result of the Ebola outbreak, and particularly to 192 medical personnel who paid the ultimate price for their service to humanity.
Ebola-free Liberia is a milestone that means more than being free from the disease – it also means that we have come out stronger, more willing to rely on each other and work together. The Ebola response efforts united the country and partners in a unique way that has led us to the celebration today. These efforts need to continue in rebuilding Liberia's health services. The Ebola outbreak has taught us the importance of strong and responsive health system and healthy people. It demonstrated how a disease outbreak can destroy the gains made over the years of development. Building strong and resilient health system capable of dealing better when – not if- the next outbreak comes should be an essential part of the recovery plan.
We, as the World Bank Group, are proud for responding fast, being flexible and allocating significant resources to the immediate Ebola response efforts. The World Bank Group remains fully committed to working with other partners in supporting the Government's efforts to keep Liberia Ebola-free, building a more resilient health system and bringing economic growth and jobs back to Liberia.