News: US donates medical equipment for Liberia’s fight against HIV/AIDS
Story by Master Sgt. Brian Bahret
MONROVIA, Liberia – With the dedication of $40,000 in medical equipment, the United States has increased the Armed Forces of Liberia’s capability to treat its soldiers and families and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac dedicated the equipment to the AFL in a ceremony at the Edward Binyah Kesselly Barracks Medical Clinic Oct. 30, 2013, where she said the U.S. is proud of its role in helping Liberia fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“We have provided funding, technical assistance, and program support in many countries around the world, especially in Africa, that have benefited millions of people,” said Malac. “We are happy to continue our collaboration here in Liberia in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS infection in members of the Armed Forces of Liberia and to also provide care for those who may test positive.”
The AFL’s HIV prevention, care and treatment program was established in 2009. Malac said, since then, the U.S. Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program has provided training and education to the AFL to help reduce HIV/AIDS incidents and to promote and maintain an HIV/AIDS-free generation.
“The Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program largely focuses on prevention of the disease, which is the real way we will work together to eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Malac. “We are concerned with the continued health of those who contract the disease and are found to be positive.”
She said one of DHAPP’s priorities is to provide infrastructure and equipment for HIV/AIDS testing, care and treatment for all military personnel and their families.
“The AFL had a vision for an expanded clinic,” said Malac to Liberian government officials and AFL soldiers attending the ceremony. “This clinic is an example of your hard work, your own can-do spirit and a commitment on your behalf to provide care for your colleagues in the armed forces. Thank you for your commitment in working together in this fight against HIV/AIDS and the creation of an HIV/AIDS-free AFL, and also for your commitment to building a stronger AFL.”
The equipment the U.S. donated will strengthen the AFL’s efforts against the spread of the disease, she added. The donation included X-ray equipment, operating tables, hospital beds and mattresses, examination lines, storage units, and orthopedic and pediatric equipment.
“We are extremely grateful for this gift,” said Hon. Jerome Larbalee, Ministry of Defense deputy minister for operations. “We are going to take very good care of this equipment and the material that the American people have provided for us so it can be used for the good benefit of our soldiers and their families.”
Dr. Hawa Kromah, Margibi County Health Officer on Liberia’s National AIDS commission, said the increased medical capability and the additional training the U.S. has provided has strengthened the AFL’s role in Liberia.
“The military has been involved in national response, and this gives a strong message in our fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Kromah. “We’re serious about the prevention and spread of HIV, and the military plays a very important role.”
Malac reaffirmed the AFL’s importance to Liberia and the United States’ commitment to Liberia.
“We’re proud to have been part of the process, and we look forward to continuing our relationship ... to accomplish the shared goal, which is to create a professional Armed Forces of Liberia that can carry out the mission and meet the needs of the government and people of Liberia.”