The United States on Thursday closed an Ebola unit built for Liberian and foreign healthcare workers infected with the disease, 10 days away from the official declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) of an end to the outbreak in the country.
Staffed by the United States Public Health Service, the 25-bed Monrovia Medical Unit was established in November 2014 and to boost the confidence of Liberian healthcare workers, many of whom had died already from the deadly disease.
The last recorded Ebola patient was treated at the unit. Throughout its establishment, several healthcare workers who caught Ebola were treated at the unit, with nine of them surviving the dread of the disease. An inscription at the bottom of a bulletin board with the palm prints of survivors read: “The love of liberty—liberty from Ebola—brought us here.”
At a closing ceremony at the unit in Charlesville, nearby the Roberts International Airport, Margibi County, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac said the closure of the unit did not mean the United States had completed its work in Liberia, rather shifted to Liberia post-Ebola recovery as well as those of the two other worst affected countries.
“We brought many different elements of the U.S. government to Liberia—the U.S. military as well as U.S. civilian personnel. We’ve contributed a healthy amount of money towards the anti-Ebola fight since the outbreak. The majority of that assistance came towards Liberia, but want to stress that we are also working with partners in Sierra Leone and Guinea to ensure that this not just getting Liberia to zero but getting all three countries to zero and staying there,” Ambassador Malac said.
“The United States is committed to assisting Liberia in building a health sector to provide services to Liberians,” she added.
The U.S. envoy cautioned Liberian government and people of taking delight in shower of praises of Liberians being a resilient people who can cope with crisis.
Ambassador Malac: “I look forward to the day that we are no longer putting Liberia and resilience in the same sentence. Because, in a sense, it seems to indicate that there is nothing in this future except to overcome some new obstacles. So resilience is a wonderful characteristic and is an assets that is actually critical to continue to move forward, but I say to the U.S. government is committed to remaining a partner with the government and people of Liberia to come to that day where we have a Liberia where resilience is something we don’t have to single out and talk about as a special characteristic because you’d reach that brighter future that all Liberians deserve.”
President Ellen Johnson affirmed that Liberia had learned the lesson of the ramifications of an unprepared health system during the Ebola outbreak, showing gratitude to President Barack Obama to the United States response to the epidemic.
“The United States responded in a very significant way. President Obama responded in a personal way,” she said.
Medical materials used in the Monrovia Medical Unit will be used by the Ministry of Health in combating other infectious diseases in the country, caused by the Ebola virus such as measles, according to the head of Liberia’s Ebola response team, Tolbert Nyenswah.