A C-17 U.S. military aircraft arrived in Liberia Thursday with the first shipment of increased U.S. military equipment and personnel for the anti-Ebola fight, which was promised by President Barack Obama in a speech September 16 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The cargo included a heavy duty forklift, a drill set and generator and a team of 7 military personnel, including engineers and airfield specialists. The personnel are here to quickly assess the payload and stability of the airport runways. The forklift will be used to offload incoming supplies.
Additional large military aircraft, transporting more personnel and supplies, are expected to arrive in Monrovia in the coming days.
Major General Darryl Williams, in his capacity as Commander of U.S. Army Africa and Operation United Assistance, has been in Liberia since Tuesday, meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other senior Liberian government officials to discuss the stepped up U.S. response to the Ebola crisis.
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. Williams and U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac toured several sites where more Ebola Treatment Units are being constructed. The sites include the Defense Ministry building in Congo Town and Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced Operation United Assistance, saying: “Our forces are going to bring their expertise in command and control, in logistics, in engineering. And our Department of Defense is better at that, our armed services are better at that, than any organization on Earth. We’re going to create an air bridge to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa faster.”
In a related development, the Minister of Finance, Amara Konneh, says the Government of Liberia needs US$375 Millions to fight the deadly Ebola virus in the country.
Speaking at the grand opening of the Island Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit yesterday, Minister Konneh disclosed that the amount needed to fight Ebola is too much.
Minister Konneh added that only Liberians can fight the deadly Ebola virus and that the Ministry of Finance will do everything to fight this vicious Ebola virus that is claiming the lives of many people.
According to Minister Konneh, there is a need that hospitals and clinics be opened so as to enable people get medical treatment. He said the Island Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit was 100% financed by the Government of Liberia.
Minister Konneh lauded doctors, nurses and health workers for the significant role they are playing in the fight of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.
The Assistant Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, said the Island Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit is one of the best treatment centers in the country and contains 150 beds.
The Minister of Internal Affairs Morris Dukuly said the Island Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit is an important symbol and represents hope of survival.
Minister Dukuly averred that Ebola is real and that there is no joke about it; because people are dying; therefore people should always take preventive measures as prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
Minister Dukuly congratulated International partners for the support and effort made in fighting the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.
Meanwhile the Country Representative of World Health Organization (WHO), Peter Graaf, says the Island Hospital Ebola Treatment Unit is run by Liberians and WHO is committed to working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to kick Ebola entirely out of the country.