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… To Fight Ebola

ministeroffinanceThe Government of Liberia has signed its first three groundbreaking contract agreements with key implementing partners for the US$52m Ebola Emergency Response operation that is intended to accelerate Liberia’s response to the Ebola epidemic across the country. 

At the ceremony held at the newly established Ebola Crisis Response Center Thursday in Sinkor, Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said the contractual agreements with key development partners including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Program, and the United Nations Office of Project Services will support the provision of critical and much needed goods and services in the fight against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

According to him, the agreement will support the interventions of these organizations through the resources that will be directed toward preventing the further spread of the disease through community outreach and awareness, and ensuring that the bodies of those who have succumbed to Ebola are disposed of with dignity and respect.

Minister Konneh said the US$52m grant was provided by the World Bank to underwrite the cost of running existing Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) for the next six months; setting up new ones quickly; and ensuring that our medical personnel and our patients have everything they need to fight this disease.

The grant forms part of the US$200 million Ebola emergency mobilization first announced by the World Bank Group in early August. The WBG said that its new Ebola Emergency Response project mobilized US$52 million for Liberia, the country with the highest number of Ebola infections, US$28 million for Sierra Leone, and US$25 million for Guinea.

The Government of Liberia remains immensely grateful to the healthcare professionals who have committed themselves to the fight against Ebola, despite all threats to their lives and that of their families, Minister Konneh disclosed and added that government in turn, remains committed to the safety and fair compensation of these health workers, as demonstrated by the adequate provision in this program, for hazard payments to health workers.”

The Treasury Chief furthered that Government is keen on increasing access to healthcare for Ebola and non-Ebola patients across Liberia as efforts to eradicate the deadly virus continues unabated.

The WB grant supports the efforts by increasing supply of Personal protective equipment (PPEs); and provides for the establishment of ETUs in Fish Town, River Gee, while supporting current operations at John FK Medical Center, ELWA Hospital, Island Clinic, Bong and Foya Treatment Centers.

He said six (6) new ambulances and other vehicles provided under this grant will ensure that patients will receive quicker response and get access to health facilities with water and sanitation services to ensure that health workers and patients will care and be care for in a clean and dignified environment.

Minister Konneh thanked the partners for their supports during this crucial time. “We thank you for responding to our call as quickly as you have, and for aligning yourselves to the priorities we have set in order to resolve this crisis in an efficient and well-coordinated manner,” the Treasury Chief pointed out.

Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale thanked Liberia’s development partners for the level of support being provided by the country to respond to the Ebola outbreak. This support, he noted, will strengthen the capacity of the Government and partners to respond adequately towards containing the virus.  

Peter Graaff, WHO Country Representative recognized the government of Liberia for its unwavering commitment to protect lives in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. The WHO official thanked the World bank for making grant available in a short period. He added that with the signing, “We can move to implementation and it means we would be able to bring in the supplies needed to fight the disease.”

In remarks delivered on behalf of the World Bank Liberia Country Manager Inguna Dobraja, the Bank’s Senior Country Economist in Liberia, Timothy Bulman assured the Government and people of Liberia that the Bank will continue to stand with them during this difficult period of Liberia's existence - fighting the Ebola epidemic. “We will continue to work with the Government and other development partners to respond to the Ebola epidemic,” he said.

He acknowledged the landmark signing of contracts with key agencies was indeed significant due to the consolidation of resources, technical expertise and other response efforts that will facilitate the scaling up of response efforts against the Ebola epidemic in Liberia.

The ministries of Finance and Development Planning, Health and Social Welfare, and Agriculture of Liberia worked as one team to convene development partners to develop an investment plan for the World Bank funds, he disclosed. According to Mr. Bulman, the investment plan addresses the country's immediate priorities, including the support to Ebola treatment units (ETUs), revitalization of essential health services, risk allowances to Ebola workers and health workers under high-risk environment, surveillance and social mobilization, and food and water supply to quarantined and Ebola-affected households.

According to the plan, the Government of Liberia contracts out a part of the implementation of the investment plan to UN Agencies with specific technical and operational strengths. For example, WHO supports the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other technical services, UNICEF procures essential drugs and supplies and provides water supplies, WFP provides food to quarantined and Ebola-affected population, and UNOPS supports the procurement of ambulances. This was a truly collaborative effort under the leadership of the Government of Liberia.