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China pours oil on troubled Salone

SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 By Alusine Sesay

The three Chinese mobile laboratories in full view at Jui
The three Chinese mobile laboratories in full view at Jui

While commissioning three mobile laboratories, one holding and treatment centre established at Jui by the Chinese Center for Disease Control, President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday expressed optimism and hope that with such facilities Sierra Leone will soon put the issue of Ebola behind and forge ahead with other national development strides.

A Chinese chartered airplane had airlifted the mobile bio-safety Level III laboratories into the country on 25 September.

(Front Row) L-R: Ambassador Zhao Yanbo, President Koroma & Vice President Sam-Sumana; (Background): Medical team from China and Sierra Leonean nurses at the commissioning ceremony
(Front Row) L-R: Ambassador Zhao Yanbo, President Koroma & Vice President Sam-Sumana; (Background): Medical team from China and Sierra Leonean nurses at the commissioning ceremony

President Koroma noted that the commissioning event was a great moment in the relationship between China and Sierra Leone, with the former demonstrating a strong commitment to national issues in the latter.

“China has been here during normal times, contributing to various national developments. Since the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone, China has made serious effort in fighting the disease. They have supported us both financially and materially in the fight against Ebola,” he said. “They have also supported us indirectly through the World Health Organization and the African Union to fight against the Ebola disease.”

The President was optimistic that the centers and labs would provide the country with the facilities needed to fight against Ebola, noting that they came at a time when needed most and that he believed the Chinese medical team would immediately go into action after the commissioning.

He thanked the Chinese government and its people, as well as welcomed the medical team and the China Center for Disease Control, stating that through their tremendous assistance the Chinese government has proven that they are a special friend of Sierra Leone.

President Koroma also encouraged Sierra Leonean medical practitioners deployed at the centers to take advantage of the opportunity and build their capacities for the future.

“The Chinese will not be here forever. Make use of this opportunity to build your capacity and very soon Sierra Leone will be in position to export its medical personnel to other countries in need,” he said.

In a short but succinct address, Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Zhao Yanbo said they thought it fit to establish mobile laboratories, holding and treatment centers as a critical move to put stop to the transmission chain of the dreaded Ebola viral disease.

“The Ebola epidemic has been spreading and we believe it is critical to cut off the transmission chain, hence we thought it fit to bring mobile labs and establish treatment centers for early detection and treatment of Ebola patients,” Ambassador Yanbo said.

He reiterated China’s continuous support to Sierra Leone in the fight against the disease.

“Sierra Leone is now at stake but not standing alone. We will stand by you to provide the needed support in the fight against Ebola,” he maintained.

He commended the Chinese medical team for a job well done and encouraged them to work hard and make due contribution to the China-Sierra Leone relationship, adding that “together we will win the fight against Ebola”.

Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Brima Kargbo, said the commissioning of the facilities bore testimony to the long standing relationship between China and Sierra Leone, and enthused that such would help cut down the transmission chain of the disease as well as provide adequate care for affected persons.

He said that between the three affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), Sierra Leone is recording a low fatality rate of less than 60% and that the labs, holding and treatment centers will further help in the reduction of the case fatality rate in the country.

He commended the Sierra Leone medical team in charge of the treatment centre at the Police Training School, Hastings, where he said twenty-six Ebola patients will soon be discharged.

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