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Liberia president tours hospitals, hails China Ebola aid

MONROVIA (AA) – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has toured major hospitals across the capital Monrovia to ascertain they have reopened their doors to the public and check the distribution of Chinese-donated medical supplies and protective equipment to help fight the Ebola.
"As you can see, I have with me Chinese ambassador [Zhou Yuxiao] whose government has contributed huge consignment of protective equipment for you to resume work," Sirleaf told Dr. Wvannie Mae Scott McDonald, the head of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital. Accompanied by Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bernice Dahn and the Ebola taskforce team, the president also toured the Redemption and the External Love Winning Africa (ELWA) hospitals. She assured hospitals of adequate distribution of protective supplies to enable them to effectively re-open to serve the public.
The tour came one day following the arrival of a huge consignment of protective and medical supplies from China to help combat the deadly Ebola virus.
The consignment, which is valued at over $5 million, has been earmarked for the three worst-hit countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – with the latter receiving $ 1.7 million worth of medical supplies. Supplies include, among other things, personal protective equipment, hospital curtains, sanitizers, disinfectants and patient-monitoring equipment.
All major government and private hospitals had closed down after several fatalities among medical staff had created panic.
Ebola, a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure, has claimed hundreds of lives in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Liberia alone has reported 294 suspected and confirmed fatalities from Ebola as of August 8, with several fresh cases of suspected Ebola being reported daily.
Since the country's second outbreak of Ebola in June, some 35 health workers, including doctors, have died after treating infected patients.
Hospital officials had warned that the resumption of work without adequate protective gear could put more health workers at risk.
The tropical fever, which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, can be transmitted to humans from wild animals.
It also reportedly spreads through contact with the body fluids of infected persons or of those who have died of the disease.
-Saving Lives-
During her visits to the three major hospitals, President Sirleaf thanked health workers for their tireless efforts in serving the public amidst the Ebola outbreak. She encouraged them to continue the hard work. Dr. McDonald, for her part, confirmed to the president that the JFK Maternity Center has now been reopened to the public. She said they had concluded training of the hospital staff on the usage of the personal protective equipment and the screening of patients. This, the hospital's administrator said, is geared towards avoiding the reoccurrence of deaths among health workers.
As part of its reopening plan, the JFK has instituted several measure aimed at protecting health workers from contracting Ebola.
The measures include the use of digital thermometer that detects the temperature without touching the body of a patient.
Dr. McDonald also cited a fully-equipped observation room where every patient will be closely observed for signs and symptoms of Ebola. President Sirleaf, meanwhile, also visited the widow of a health worker from Bong Mines Hospital who had died from Ebola.
"I know my husband is already dead but the fact that the president can come to see me, means she is truly a mother," said Miatta Hindeh, who could not hold back her tears.
By Evelyn T. Kpadeh

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