By State House Communications Unit
The Chinese government has officially handed over the newly constructed EVD BSL 3 laboratory to the government of Sierra Leone.
The head of the China CDC team Professor Xiaopin Dong took the president on an inspection tour of the facility before the official handing over ceremony which took place at the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Biological Safety Lab at Jui on Tuesday 10 March, 2015.
The project agreement which was signed in September 2014 took six months to complete and the lab has been installed and retest completed in January 2015.
According to the Chinese Ambassador Zhao Yanbo, Sierra Leoneans working with the China CDC team will be sent to Beijing to improve on their capacity in handling viral haemorrhagic fevers and other tropical diseases. He described the construction of the level 3 Lab as a milestone in the relationship between the two countries as well as the development of the public health systems which will serve as a solid foundation for infectious disease prevention and control, adding that the bio safety level 3 lab can eventually challenge any kind of epidemic in the future. He also encouraged the Chinese Medical team to work hand in glove with their Sierra Leonean counterpart to bring an end to the outbreak. Ambassador Yanbo expressed hope that the facility will be transformed into a medical complex.
President Ernest Bai Koroma paid tribute to China-Sierra Leone Friendship and said the journey started over 40 years ago. He noted that when Ebola struck, China rose to the occasion by sending in medical supplies, personnel and equipment and later on provided a mobile lab to help tackle the epidemic. The president said China has demonstrated clearly that they are true friends of Sierra Leone. “We have not yet won the fight against Ebola, but we are working tirelessly towards zero new infection,” he stated. He also pointed out that government’s hope is to build a resilient health sector to robustly contain any future outbreaks, and added that this new fixed lab will go a long way in achieving that.
As the country works towards registering zero new infection, President Koroma stressed that the lab will continue to provide the required support to reaching zero. He revealed that government is putting together a solid post Ebola recovery programme that will review the health, education and economic sectors. “Our hope is to build a resilient health sector that will help us on our own to fight any future outbreak,” and urged Sierra Leoneans to make use of the opportunities and ensure they go through the learning process. The president assured Ambassador Yanbo of the country’s continued bilateral relations while promising of a visit to China to register thanks and appreciation for support being provided to Sierra Leone.