Monrovia, December 5 – U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and other members of a high-level U.S. delegation travelled to Monrovia, Liberia December 2-4, 2014 to review the U.S. Government’s Ebola response efforts and to review what steps will need to be taken in a post-Ebola West Africa.
The delegation included Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, Michael Lumpkin, USAID Assistant Administrator for Global Health Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID Ebola Task Force Coordinator Dirk Dijkerman, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mitchell Wolfe.
“I am delighted to be back in Liberia after two and a half years,” Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after she and the delegation members met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Assistant Secretary was the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia from 2008-2012.
“We have made tremendous progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done and it’s not over until it’s over,” Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield said. “We cannot stop the efforts that everyone is involved in; we cannot change the practices that have been put in place to ensure that this disease is conquered,” she added.
Earlier in the trip, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac accompanied the Assistant Secretary and other members of the delegation on a tour of the Ebola Treatment Unit in Bong County where they observed an Ebola patient emerge from the hot zone, healthy and free of the disease. The delegation also visited a safe burial site as well as the U.S. Navy testing lab to speak with technicians testing samples to determine whether a patient has the Ebola virus.
While in Liberia, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield and Assistant Secretary Lumpkin also met with officials from UNMEER (UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response) and international medical staff who are serving the people of Liberia during this global health crisis. In addition she visited the Monrovia Medical Unit (MMU), a 25-bed field hospital treating both international health care workers who have become infected with the Ebola virus as a result of treating patients in Monrovia and across the country.
When asked whether the U.S. government will support Liberia post-Ebola, she asserted, “The United States Government will be where the U.S. government has always been: by Liberia’s side in addressing its humanitarian and development challenges. I commit that we will continue to work with the Liberian government as it moves into the recovery phase and into the reconstruction phase.”
Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield also made it a point to meet with the country’s Mandela Washington Fellows whenever she travels to Africa and Liberia was no exception. She met with nine of the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship participants and was able to congratulate them on their achievements and hear more about their experiences in the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) program.