It took huge determination to beat Ebola in Liberia and we should take this spirit and resilience as the country builds for the future, Tony Blair said today.
During a visit to the capital Monrovia with AGI's CEO, Nick Thompson, Mr. Blair met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her team to discuss their plans for Liberia's post-Ebola recovery, after the country was declared Ebola free by the World Health Organisation on 9th May.
We have been working in the country since 2009 and have been providing support to the government to help respond effectively to the Ebola outbreak since last year. This has included working with the government to: establish the President's advisory committee on Ebola, strength the task force that led Liberia's Ebola response and develop Liberia's “Ebola Must Go” communications campaign (see picture above). But with 45 days since the last recorded case, Mr. Blair and Mr. Thompson spoke to senior government officials about the role AGI can play in building the systems of government needed to turn the recovery plans into results for the people of Liberia.
They also visited the Redemption Hospital, a symbol of the fight against Ebola in the country. Many of the hospital staff lost their lives in the early days of the crisis, but it was where the last case of the disease was identified in March. At the hospital, Mr. Blair and Mr. Thompson met with some of the doctors and nurses who were at the frontline of the fight against Ebola, saw the systems of triage and infection control which helped beat the disease, and viewed trials of a new vaccine that could stop it coming back.
Speaking at the hospital Mr Blair said:
"These are momentous days for Liberia as the scourge of Ebola has been defeated. I want to pay tribute to the government under the leadership of President Sirleaf, to the international community who have supported them, but most of all to the people of Liberia who, in every community across the nation, have refused to give in to this terrifying illness."”
It took a spirit and a resilience to keep going through the darkest days. It took leadership at all levels. And it took disciplined organisation. If we can take those strengths into the process of recovery, of job creation, of repairing, the health system, of building the infrastructure the country needs, there will be many more optimistic days ahead for the people of Liberia."”
But Ebola is not over. The people of Sierra Leone and Guinea are fighting still and need our ongoing support. And we should make sure we do whatever it takes to help them eradicate this disease.”
After meeting with the Government of Liberia and the AGI team to hear about Liberia's plans for economic recovery, Nick Thompson said:
"We've been working with the government of Liberia for over five years now and it's humbling and inspiring to be with our Liberian colleagues at such a moment of hope as Ebola is finally eradicated from the country. It has been a privilege to work alongside them in the battle against the disease. I'm incredibly proud that my team stayed to support the Government in overcoming the outbreak and we will now continue to work with them in building Liberia's recovery.”
While in Liberia, Mr. Blair and Mr. Thompson also spoke to the government officials responsible for the post-Ebola recovery including the Minister of Finance and the head of the President's Delivery Unit, as well as representatives of the international community in Liberia.
This visit follows Mr. Blair’s trip to the country in November, when he and the President spoke about how Liberia could beat the outbreak and build for the future - click here to listen to an audio clip.
Nick Thompson was also in the country in February, speaking to the government and AGI's team who live and work in Liberia about how the country re-defines its development priorities post-Ebola and strikes a new deal with donors to support them - click here to read more.