160 Chinese health workers in Liberia to fight Ebola

Chinese military health workers, part of a delegation of 160 sent by China to help in the fight against Ebola, arrive at Roberts airport outside Monrovia on Nov 15, 2014, to staff and manage a US$41 million (S$51.26 million) Ebola treatment unit
Chinese military health workers, part of a delegation of 160 sent by China to help in the fight against Ebola, arrive at Roberts airport outside Monrovia on Nov 15, 2014, to staff and manage a US$41 million (S$51.26 million) Ebola treatment unit. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MONROVIA (AFP) - A total of 160 Chinese healthcare workers have arrived in Liberia to staff and manage a US$41 million (S$51.26 million) Ebola treatment unit, the Chinese embassy said Sunday.

Many of the doctors, epidemiologists and nurses who will work in the unit previously helped tackle the SARS epidemic in Asia, it said in a statement.

“They experienced SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). They are very knowledgeable in this area,” ambassador Zhang Yue said.  

Engineers hope to get the unit built and operational within 10 days. Since the unit will be made of concrete, the embassy said it would leave a lasting legacy to the impoverished west African country, where at least 2,812 people have so far died of the deadly virus.

Zhang said the unit would be unique because most of the other treatment units are temporary structures. “China is the only country which provides not only the construction of an Ebola treatment unit, but also the running, operation and the staffing of it.

“Further on we will provide additional material to Liberia worth around US$5 million. So all together US$46 million of our aid is exclusively to Liberia,” Zhang added.  

So far Beijing has promised Ebola-hit countries the equivalent of US$122 million to help fight the epidemic.

China is Africa’s largest trading partner, and its diplomatic footprint across the continent has expanded hugely in recent years as it seeks resources to power its economy.

Still it is a long way behind the European Union, whose leaders have boosted their Ebola aid to one billion euros (S$1.62 billion).  The United States has earmarked more than US$350 million in aid, while the World Bank and African Development Bank pledged US$400 million and US$225 million respectively.