WASHINGTON - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has thanked President Barack Obama and the American people for their additional offer to help Liberia and other West African countries combat the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. The World Health Organization says there are nearly 5,000 cases of the hemorrhagic fever-like illness in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, with Liberia being at the epicenter of the outbreak.
Speaking Tuesday at the Center For Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, Obama said 3,000 U.S. troops are headed to Liberia.
Those U.S. forces will construct 17 health care facilities of 100 beds each to isolate and treat patients. The U.S. mission will also set up a facility to train 500 health care workers per week and airlift 50,000 home health care kits to Liberia to help people who have to care for sick loved ones at home.
In a nationwide speech late Wednesday, President Sirleaf said she has urged other world leaders to take similar steps and join Liberia and other West African countries to end Ebola.
"On behalf of the Liberian people and in my own name, I want to thank President Obama and the American people for scaling up the American response. I have also spoken to several members of the U.S. congress who are giving President Obama the support that he needs. We remain in touch with the leaders of other governments, and with the United Nations leadership, to take similar steps and join us in partnership to end this disease," said Sirleaf.
President Sirleaf said while her government and the international community will continue to ensure that the spread of the Ebola virus is reversed, Liberians also need to do their part because, she said, the actions of one affect the health of the whole nation.
“We will continue to take clear actions and introduce the measures required to break the transmission chain and reverse the spread of the virus. And you, our citizens must do your part. Each one has to be responsible for all because the actions of one affect the health of all. We will continue to ask for international help, but until we take responsibility of this problem as individuals, as families, as neighborhoods, as communities, as districts, as counties and as a nation, this problem will not go away," she said.
Sirleaf thanked Liberians, particularly nurses and doctors, who, she said, could have fled but made the brave decision to stay and treat Ebola patients.
"Particularly the nurses and doctors who could have fled but have made the brave decision to stay and treat the sick; our sons who are doing the physically and emotionally draining work of collecting bodies. Our nation, our people are forever grateful to all of you, and we expect to announce early next week that this gratitude goes beyond words," said Sirleaf.
Sirleaf also called on Liberians to use the same fighting spirit and resilience they displayed during their country’s 14 years of civil war to fight back and defeat Ebola.