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Remarks at the Handover Ceremony of the China-Aided Project of Tappita Hospital
2010-07-28 00:54

By H.E. Mr. ZHOU Yuxiao

Chinese Ambassador to Liberia

July 23, 2010

Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,

Honorable Ministers and officials of Government,

Honorable members of the Legislature,

Members of the Tappita Hospital Board of Directors

Chiefs, elders, and my Nimba friends,

Members of the Media,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am so happy to be back in Tappita to see my honest Nimba friends who keep promises. As you may recall, on January 16, 2009, Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and me came for the launching of the Tappita Hospital. At the function, Madam President pledged to build a modern referral hospital in Tappita as she promised in her presidential campaign. I promised to encourage the Chinese contractor to complete the project with quick speed and good quality. You the Nimba people promised to make the construction site theft-free. Today, with the brand new hospital standing in front of us with almost zero reporting of theft, we can proudly said that we all have honored our commitments and we have realized our common dream of having a good hospital in Tappita. This is delivery, not lip service. We should be proud of ourselves and let's celebrate this joint success by putting our hands together.

Madam President, Ladies and gentlemen,

As you may know, my President Hu Jintao announced at the Beijing FOCAC Summit in November 2006 that China would build 30 hospitals in Africa. Liberian was chosen to be one of the recipient countries. However, it was not easy for Tappita to be chosen as the hospital site because it was a distant inland city where container trucks had difficulties to reach and construction facilities and materials were almost non-existent. It was Madam President's determination to bring development to hinterland that made us to accept the idea to put the hospital where it is. After 16 months of hard work by the Chinese and Liberian engineers and workers, this US$ 10 million Hospital complex is ready to provide medical services.

The hospital consists of an outpatient building, an in-patient building with 100 sickbed, an imaging and radiology building and an administrative building which are all connected by roofed corridors. In addition to that, there are 6 apartments for doctors, a generator house equipped with two sets of 500 KV generators, a water-pumping house, a mortuary and etc. 7 departments, namely internal medicine, surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, ENT, emergency will be set up when doctors are available. The hospital is also equipped with more than 170 different kinds of modern medical equipment including items like a CT scanner which is the first one in Liberia, a color ultrasound system, a fiber gastro scope, infant incubators, an ambulance and etc. All these basic facilities will offer better public health services not only to the Nimba people, but also to the people in the surrounding counties like Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, River Cess and etc.

Madam President, ladies and gentlemen,

To me, this is much more than a hospital. It is a dividend of peace, a symbol of friendship, a fruit of cooperation, a stimulator of national moral, a milestone of Liberian progress and a worthy investment in human life and human resource. At the same time, it also serves as a reminder of new challenges, such as professional management, provision of qualified doctors and adequate funding to make the hospital sustainable. In China we have a saying: "A thousand-mile long journey starts with the first step". One never reaches his destination if he does not to take the first step for fear of obstacles. The completion of the construction of the hospital is the first step that is extremely crucial to the materialization of a modern hospital in the Southeastern part that is badly in need of it. I am sure that all individuals and institutions that care about the well being of the people there will contribute positively and constructively. The most striking advantage of the human being is its capability to make the impossible possible.

A friend in need is a friend in deed. We will not stop where we are and we shall march forward together with the Liberian people on their uphill journey. Considering the practical constraints faced by the Liberian Government, the Chinese Government is ready to go a extra mile to do a little bit more for the hospital: 1, to provide the hospital with medical consumables worth of US$1.5 million; 2, to train managerial personnel, doctors and nurses in short team courses in China; 3, to send technicians to the hospital to train the local employee on how to use the equipment provided by China; 4, to be open to cooperation with other stakeholders; 5, to provide more scholarships on top of the 31 medical students currently studying in Chinese universities on Chinese government scholarships. People may ask why China does not send doctors to the hospital. My honest answer is: China has already sent a medical team of nine members to the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia and medical doctors are also scarce in China as it is still a developing country itself. We are giving a little bit help to Liberia not because we are rich, but because we believe that the poor should help the poor too. I am glad to tell you that the Egyptian government is prepared to send doctors to the hospital very soon to provide immediate medical services to the local residents. This is another good example of the poor helping the poor, or south-south cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the most distant aid project undertaken by China. The contractor encountered enormous difficulties in transporting more than 100 containers to the construction site as the road condition was deplorable. Yet it managed to complete the project in time by redoubling its efforts. It is also the project that got the most help and support from all quarters. Madam President insisted on putting the project here. The Minister of Health and his officials did so much to ensure speedy construction and future operation. The district legislators, particularly Honorable Edwin Gaye tried in every possible way to help the contractor. The superintendent, the city mayor, the local chiefs were equally supportive and considerate to the contractor. What I want to mention in particular is the sincerity and integrity of the local residents. The contractor was not bothered at all by theft problem. UNMIL also helped by sending its engineering contingent to help level the construction ground with its heavy earthmoving equipment. I wish to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all contributors, mentioned or not mentioned, for their kind support and cooperation.

Madam President, ladies and gentlemen,

It has been nearly three years since my arrival in Liberia as the Chinese Ambassador. I must say that these years are very rewarding, as I have made so many friends from across the sections. It is gratifying to witness so much progress that has been made by the Liberian government and people in their efforts to bring about peace, stability and development. It is equally gratifying to be personally evolved in the nurturing of the cordial relationship between our two countries, which is characterized by sovereign equality, mutual trust, sincere friendship, win-win cooperation and common progress. Our practical cooperation in the fields of education, health, agriculture, investment, and bilateral and multilateral diplomacy has produced fruitful results that benefit both sides. 2010 is a bump harvest year for China and Liberia. I just handed over the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia and the Agricultural Technology Demonstration Center at the CARI, Gbarnga before I came here. When we go back to Monrovia after this trip, we shall do a launching for the rehabilitation of the unfinished building of the Ministry of Health. I hope they will all play a positive role in lifting Liberia,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude my remarks by officially hand over, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, the hospital as a birthday gift to the Liberian government and people, particularly the Nimba people on the occasion of the 163rd anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Liberia. Here is the symbolic key to the hospital, Madam President. Now the hospital is yours. Congratulations. Kar zuo duo, kar zuo yom. I wish all of you a very happy and joyful Independence Day.

Thank you!

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