Monrovia - The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) have ended a two-day validation meeting for Liberia’s National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS).
The NAPHS will align with all health security interventions, through the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), using the One Health Approach and the government’s broader health system strengthening whole society approach.
Speaking to reporters at the climax of the meeting on Friday, December 1, the Director for the Division of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Thomas Nagbe, averred that the five-year plan (2017 – 2021), will cover 19 key areas under the four-core components of preventing, detecting, responding, and building capacity to address other International Health Regulations (IHR) related hazards (radiation, chemical and points of entry); adding that Liberia is a signatory to the IHR in 2005.
Nagbe also noted that the NAPHS is a consolidated effort of Government entities and agencies, and international partners to address the recommendations from the WHO Joint External Evaluation conducted in September 2016.
He further asserted that the plan covers 19 technical areas including real time surveillance, immunization, food safety, radiation and microbial resistance and stressed that it will require the collaborations of key parties involved to make it workable.
“We expect the key line ministries and agencies to be able to mobilize resources to address the integrated activities that have been included in this. The next step from the validation is to launch this national plan during the national health conference,” Mr. Nagbe noted.
The NAPHS comes at a time the current administration, headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, tenure is about to end. But the NPHIL’s Director for the Division of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology assured that the plan is a dynamic document that will be incorporated by the next administration.
“The issue at hand surpasses politics. It’s about addressing critical needs that impact the political atmosphere within the country. We are very sure the actors will be around. This is a dynamic document. We hope it can be presented to any leadership the country will appreciate in the future.
We do not expect this document to die with the present leadership. We expect the next leadership to inherit it. So it’s a live document. It’s a Liberia’s document. It’s not a document that is for any existing leadership.”
The gathering brought together line ministries and agencies of Government including the Ministries of Agriculture, Defense, Foreign Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Liberia National Police, along with partner agencies including, which include the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Speaking at the opening, Dr. Alex Gasasira, WHO Country Representative, praised the government for the progress in strengthening health security and achieving greater capacity in International Health Regulations.
Dr. Gasasira further stated that the validation of the Plan will help Liberia address critical health areas that need attention. He added that the Liberian government’s adoption of the One Health Platform is a major achievement that brings together everyone with the capacities and competences required.
He added: “The Plan is an effective tool to identify and mobilize resources to address critical gaps.”
In her remarks, Dr. Emily Kainne Dokubo, CDC Deputy Director, reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s support to building capacity and strengthening Liberia’s health systems through the Global Health Security Agenda.
For his part, the Director-General of NPHIL, Tolbert G. Nyenswah, in his opening statement, expressed enthusiasm in the progress of Liberia’s health sector following the launch of the National One Health Platform, the Integrated Public Health Risk Assessment, IHR Self-Assessment and subsequently, the WHO-led Joint External Evaluation of IHR. With reference to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, Mr. Nyenswah noted that a document for Global Health Security is a hallmark of saving the entire world.