Deputy Minister Kao, CDC Director General Steve Kuo, Ambassador Benjamin Liang, ladies and gentlemen, friends, good morning.
On behalf of the American Institute in Taiwan and my colleagues the U.S. Department of State in Washington, it is my great honor to be here to join you for the opening of this Ebola and infectious disease training course. The United States and Taiwan share a distinguished history of cooperation in health, science, and other related fields, and during this past year we have found opportunities in times of crisis to bring our cooperation to a new level, for the benefit of the global community. Our work together in support of the international Ebola response effort is just such an example, and I am pleased to be here to see our cooperation enter this exciting new phase.
By the time the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began making headlines last summer, Taiwan’s health authorities were already taking steps to ensure that they had the necessary expertise to respond to possible cases in Taiwan or among Taiwan’s overseas communities. Taiwan sent two of its medical experts to train with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, and took steps to inform its citizens at home and overseas about the nature and risks of the Ebola threat. But once Taiwan’s agencies addressed their core responsibilities to protect their citizens, Taiwan quickly began to look for ways to contribute to the international response. The United States was proud to partner with Taiwan in this effort.
Last December, Taiwan donated one million U.S. Dollars (about 30 million New Taiwan Dollars) to the U.S. CDC Foundation to support its global Ebola response. Taiwan also donated 100,000 sets of personal protective equipment, or “PPEs,” to Liberia, one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola. This last effort involved a great deal of logistical problem-solving as Taiwan and the United States patiently worked together to find ways to get those PPEs to the place they were most urgently needed. As many of you may have heard, earlier this month, on March 5th, Liberia announced that it had discharged its last Ebola patient, bringing that country’s devastating epidemic to a close much faster than many health experts had predicted. Taiwan should be justifiably proud of the role it played in supporting Liberia in this effort. And just last week, Taiwan donated 125,000 U.S. Dollars (about $3.75 million NTD) to the Pan-American Development Foundation. These funds will be used to purchase Clinical Care Kits to help ensure that Latin America will be able to respond effectively to any cases of Ebola.
As we all know, the Ebola outbreak, though it has faded from the headlines, is a long way from over. My colleagues in the U.S. CDC estimate that worldwide over 24,000 people may have been infected during the latest outbreak, with nearly 10,000 fatalities. The disease spread quickly during the height of the outbreak, with cases in nine countries. The threat from pandemic disease, not just Ebola, is an issue that clearly demands continued vigilance from the international community. While the latest Ebola outbreak finally appears to be coming under control, we need to take steps to finish the job and ensure that we are better prepared for the next epidemic. Today’s training course is a step in the right direction, and I applaud Taiwan’s vision, leadership, and generosity in launching this program. I also applaud the course participants and your home governments for demonstrating your commitment to protecting your nations’ people, the people of the region, and the world, by taking time out of your schedules to come to Taiwan for this training.