Interview: Sierra Leone's health minister hails "phenomenal" Chinese aid over Ebola
FREETOWN, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Sierra Leone's Health Minister Abu bakarr Fofanah has described the Chinese aid in fighting the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone as "phenomenal."
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Xinhua over the weekend, Fofanah noted that the Chinese aid has in no small measure helped in the fight against the dreaded Ebola, which has claimed the lives of more than 600 people in the small west African country.
He said when Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma made a global appeal for assistance during the outbreak of the disease, President Xi Jinping was one of the first world leaders to respond swiftly and "with action."
He noted that China, within two weeks, airlifted 1.36 million dollars' worth of anti-Ebola drugs followed by a 59-member contingent of medical personnel from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition, the Chinese embassy also converted the Sierra Leone-Chinese Friendship Hospital, about 30 kilometers east of Freetown, to a hospital capable of handling cases of highly infectious diseases like Ebola, said the minister.
He said with Chinese aid, the country can now boast of a 100- bed hospital facility in the capital, Freetown, that can be readily "transformed to a management and treatment center."
The minister said that apart from all these support, the government of China has also provided both direct and indirect financial support in the country's fight against the Ebola crisis, noting that quite recently the government made a direct contribution of 1 million dollars to Sierra Leone whilst at the same time made a donation of 2 million dollars worth of food aid to the World Food Program.
Commenting specifically on the mobile laboratories provided by China, the health minister said it is "very crucial in our fight against the Ebola scourge" by reducing the transport time of the blood samples.
"It will definitely speed up diagnosis and case management," he said.
Because of the location of the mobile labs within the premises of the medical school, the labs will be "very useful in knowledge exchange" and at the same time it will be used for "teaching our medical students in the future" and will be at the center of the new medical teaching university the president is seriously thinking about, said the minister.
The Chinese support and assistance has been "very significant and tremendous" in the country's fight against the Ebola disease since it was first discovered in the eastern district of Kailahun, he added.