OCTOBER 31, 2014 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Minister of Finance and Economic Development yesterday, on behalf of the government, signed an agreement with the Chinese Ambassador in Sierra Leone for the construction of a fixed P3 level laboratory worth millions of dollars.
Speaking at the conference hall of the ministry, Ambassador Zhao Yanbo stated that intensive preparatory work was underway for the construction to commence, including the transfer of materials and designing, with construction work expected to start in November.
According to him, when completed, the facility – which will be the largest standard facility in the country – would help detect infectious and tropical diseases.
He said the People’s Republic of China was the first nation to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa when it airlifted emergency medical materials, including personal protective equipment (PPEs) to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
He noted that to date, they have provided three batches of medical assistance to help in the fight against the Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone, and revealed that President Xi Jinping last Friday announced that the Chinese government will deliver the 4th batch of medical equipment – hospital beds, ambulances, motorcycles, protective equipments and other urgently-needed supplies – worth $82million to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
“We will continue to do our best to help Sierra Leone out of this Ebola crisis. We are the first nation to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” he said and expressed optimism that with their support, coupled with assistance from the international community, the Ebola battle will be won.
Ambassador Yanbo further revealed that in the long-term, China would initiate the China-Africa Public Health Cooperation Plan to help African countries strengthen public health systems and construct long-term mechanisms for disease prevention and control.
He also stressed the importance of addressing both the symptoms and the root causes of the Ebola virus.
In his statement, Minister of Finance Dr. Kaifala Marah, on behalf of the government, thanked the Chinese government and people for their unflinching support and solidarity since the Ebola outbreak in May.
He stated that China’s intervention in helping Sierra Leone fight the disease is something worth celebrating, and that the pledge by the ambassador to help the country’s economic recovery after the crisis was not a surprise.
“As a government and as a people, we will meet our own part of the bargain by providing the land for the construction and installation. While the rest of the world was thinking of what to give us in the fight, you responded without saying a word. Let me thank you for your generous contributions to this fight and support to the aspirations of our development,” he said.