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Minister along with the five-man medical team from the DR Congo

Monrovia, August 27, 2014: Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has described as a demonstration of ‘solid African solidarity’ ongoing efforts by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in helping Liberia battle the Ebola virus.

A Foreign Ministry release says the Foreign Minister made the assertion Tuesday when a visiting five-man medical team from the DR Congo paid a courtesy call on him at his Foreign Ministry office on Capitol Hill.

Foreign Minister Ngafuan, on behalf of the Liberian Government and people of Liberia, extended thanks to President Joseph Kabila and the Government and people of the DR Congo for demonstrating what he called “solid African solidarity.”

“It is said that in great danger, real friends are known and it is in this period that Liberia is getting a lot of credible data as to who our real friends are because our true friends—near, far—are coming to assist us battle this deadly Ebola virus”, he said.

He said the Liberian Government and people are happy with the DRC’s intervention because the DRC was showing the opposite of what some African brothers are doing: “We’ve made it known that some of the actions, or the reactions that have been taken by some of our African brothers—some very far removed, some who don’t even share contiguous borders with us—are in an effect not in line with African solidarity, they are not consistent with experts’ advise and what in essence they are doing is trying to make it doubling difficult for us to deal with this Ebola crisis as expeditiously as we would want to deal with it.”

He said the presence of DRC medical expert team can be considered as a reciprocation of Liberia’s contribution to the former Zaire’s independence struggle by sending troops to what was known as the Congo War during the 1960’s.

“As we speak, there are some off-springs of some of those Liberians that are still in DR Congo”, he added, expressing optimism that Ebola will soon leave Liberia. He said that when the Ebola menace is over, Liberians and friends of Liberia will firstly thank God and then look to the DRC for what it has done for the country despite being far-off.

Minister Ngafuan then expressed hope that both Liberian and Congolese experts can work together over a longer period of time to ensure that Ebola is out of Liberia.

Speaking earlier, a member of the Congolese teams, Dr. Mukendi Kalambayi, Internist in charge of Control Infection, asserted that the team’s visit is a result of a direct instruction from President Joseph Kabila of the DRC. He stated that such a visit is an opportunity to strengthen the ties between both countries.

“All this is happening because of the long-standing relationship between Liberia and the Congo [DRC], that is why President Joseph Kabila himself sent this medical team to Liberia to help with this Ebola fight. This is an opportunity to strengthen the ties between our both countries”, Dr. Kalambayi told Minister Ngafuan.

For his part, Professor Doctor Muyembe Fafum Jean Jacques who heads the five-man team indicated that it was a pleasure for his country to help Liberia in its Ebola fight.

He revealed that he was the first to be on the Ebola field since 1976 during the first outbreak of the virus in his country, adding, “And since then, we have been affected six different times. And yesterday, we heard of another outbreak [in DRC].”

Professor Doctor Jean Jacques explained that his team has made a couple of visits to various medical facilities here in Liberia including the National Ebola laboratory, a UNICEF lab, and the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital. He said the Congolese team has concluded talks with international partners here in Liberia and advanced a number of recommendations including the restoration of confidence in the communities by ensuring that medical structures are restored for the identification of anyone with fever. This, he said, would attract people to the health centers rather than staying at homes which he said would be more risky and could make the chain of contamination very long.

“Ebola has its socio-cultural and security aspects…..We are convinced that Liberia will overcome this disease”, Dr. Jean Jacques, Coordinator of the Ebola Control Team in DR. Congo concluded.

The Congolese delegation included two medical doctors and other experts along with two journalists. The team arrived in the country on Friday, August 22, 2014.

Other members of the Congolese medical team are Dr. Mukendi Kalambayi, internist in charge of Control Infection, Mr. Muyembe Baby, Lab. technician in charge of collecting, keeping and controlling specimens, Mr. Yongolele Riziki, biologist in charge of bio-security and Mrs. Akonga Okito, lab technician and analyst.

Signed:
              Hon. Horatio Bobby Willie
             Assistant Minister/Public Affairs

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