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China rescues Ebola-stricken Liberia

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

07-14-2015 16:05 BJT

By Miroslav Atanasov, Renmin University of China

The Ebola Virus has affected the world, particularly West Africa, in the last year and a half. This was the most widespread outbreak in the history of the deadly disease that was discovered in 1976. The recent unprecedented epidemic broke out in Guinea in December 2013 and quickly spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

These countries were the most-affected, while cases were also reported in Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, the United States and several European countries. Liberia was one of the most impacted nations. The country is the first republic to be established on the African continent, which was founded in 1847 by freed slaves returning from the US. 

In the 1990s, Liberia had endured two devastating civil wars sparked by the diamond trade. In spite of its current peaceful political climate and holding vast resources of mineral wealth, Liberia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, which is struggling with a high unemployment rate.
 
On July 27, 2014, following Liberian Independence celebrations the previous day, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia had declared a national state of emergency. She formed a National Task Force on Ebola in coordination with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

All borders were closed with the exception of five major entry points that included Roberts International Airport near Monrovia. Testing centers were set up and stringent preventative measures were taken to limit the spread of the disease. Public gatherings were restricted; schools and universities were closed down; while affected regions were placed under mandatory quarantines.
 
The epidemic was a major set-back for Liberia’s economic recovery. Many investors fled and imports had decreased dramatically, which resulted in soaring inflation for daily necessities.  The death toll in Liberia stood at 4,807 as of the end of June.

The total number of affected persons was 10,607. Yet, Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May 2015, but continues to stay on high alert. There were already several more cases reported this month.
 
Having traveled to Liberia several times since 2009, I have witnessed the involvement of Chinese companies in the country’s economic development. CICO (Chongqing International Construction Corporation) and CHICO (China Henan International Construction Group), for example have recently carried out construction on major infrastructure projects here. The China-Union, which took over the Bong Mines in 2008, made its first shipment of iron ore from Liberia in February 2013.

Many Liberian students in Chinese universities have received scholarships from China’s Ministry of Education. Many Liberians, including government officials and senators, have praised China’s involvement in the country.
 
Additionally, China had become a major source of assistance to Liberia during the epidemic. The Chinese government had deployed an Emergency Ebola Response team to assist West Africa.

In October 2014, an Air China cargo plane delivered much-needed Ebola-treatment supplies to Monrovia. Since November 2014, China had donated over 750 million Yuan (123 million US Dollars) to combat the disease in 13 African countries.
 
In late 2015, China dispatched a People’s Liberation Army unit to Liberia; and the PLA squad built a treatment center for 100 patients – the first one of its kind constructed and operated by a foreign country to assist West African nations. Approximately 480 PLA medical staff had been sent to treat patients.
 
China also dispatched several hundred aid workers, including health experts to fight Ebola. Sichuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd. shipped several thousand doses of an experimental Ebola drug and conducted clinical trials.
 
In February 2015, China delivered 1500 metric tons of food, an estimated value of 2 million US dollars, at the Port of Monrovia. The shipment included rice, corn cereal and beans, which were delivered to Ebola treatment units nationwide, as well as to 26,000 Liberian households.

The goodwill gesture was welcomed by the local public. At the hand-over ceremony, Tolbert Nyenswah, head of Liberia's Ebola Incidence Management System, who received the donation on behalf of the Liberian government, said:

"This government remembers the great support the Chinese people have rendered to Liberia. We Liberians will not forget the invaluable contributions made by the Chinese government. From the inception of this crisis, China has contributed immensely to our effort to end Ebola."

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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