MONROVIA The Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP) in partnership with the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF-Liberia) has officially launched a national campaign on COVID-19 Prevention Community Engagement and Outreach Intervention, with a call for the holistic involvement of opinion leaders and the locals residing in the slums if the pandemic is to be totally eradicated from Liberia through rapid immunization.
According to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), about four cases of COVID-19 remain active in the country/
The campaign to raise awareness on the second phase of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 was launched at a ceremony held atthe LCP’s offices on the Capitol Bye-Pass in Monrovia on Monday, October 4.
Launching the campaign, Montserrado County Superintendent Madam Florence Brandy, urged Liberians to be on the alert that the intake of one of the COVID-19 vaccines might likely be used globally as one of the criteria for employment opportunities in renowned and important organizations across the world.
She added that citizens should not be bothered that their experience or travel to other countries across the world to seek employment or other opportunities would be hindered if they fail to make use of the opportunity being accorded them by the Liberian government and its partners to take the vaccines against the Coronavirus free of charge.
“I am here to add my voice to the many voices to call on us to please take our vaccines. For us to talk about something, you must have tried it. I took my vaccine way back and I am still standing strong. The vaccine is good; there is no side effect and we have come again to launch another phase of the COVID vaccine which is the Johnson and Johnson”.
Madam Brandy added that though Montserrado County is not the largest county in Liberia in terms of size, the county, which is the most populated, continues to host over 50% of Liberia’s population.
She pointed out citizens of the county should have in mind that “what effects Montserrado, effects the entire nation”, and as such, they should continue to encourage their family members, friends, neighbors, loved ones and others to take the vaccines against the pandemic.
“Coming up soon will be the biggest social event in Liberia which is the county meet. How we get glued and gravitated to supporting our counties but mind you, the Liberia Football Association is coming up with lot of conditions when it comes to sports. If we do not take the vaccines, we might not be allowed to watch the games. We might be denied from entering the football field. We need to encourage our neighbors; our communities to take the vaccine”.
She noted that Liberians will not enjoy the numerous developmental initiatives being carried out by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government if they are ill or succumb to the deadly virus.
Madam Brandy further attributed Liberia’s triumph over the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to intense and thorough engagement and outreach activities at the communities’ level.
Similar method, she maintained, should not be downplayed in the combat against the Coronavirus, noting that, “community leaders are so very important in this process”.
Include traditional, religious leaders
Madam Brandy indicated that though it is difficult to totally follow traditional norms and culture in Liberia, the role of traditional leaders and elders in the eradication of the Coronavirus pandemic from Liberia should not be overlooked.
“Our traditional leaders have a role to play. They are the ones going out there to speak the vernaculars to the people in the different dialects on the importance of this vaccine. Our health is very, very important”.
She observed that some religious leaders are discouraging their members from being vaccinated against COVID-19, but they should not be left out of the community engagement and outreach intervention because, “they too have a greater role to play”.
“If we have to send a team to the churches every Sunday and to the Mosque every Friday, I think you have to go that forth. That will help us because, a healthy nation is a develop nation”.
Work with local public officials
Madam Brandy further challenged Madam Endee and her team to work with the local government structures setup in various townships, clans, chiefdoms, among others.
She noted that City Mayors, Commissioners and others have a pivotal role to play if community dwellers are to troop in to take the J & J vaccine against COVID-19.
She added that the lives of vast majority of Liberians and foreign residents would be safe if information on the significance of taking the vaccines is spread throughout the country.
Not secure yet
Madam Brandy pointed out that those who have taken either the AstraZeneca or J & J vaccines against COVID-19, should bear in mind that they are not totally safe or secured until their family members and others are fully vaccinated.
She recounted the sacrifices of health workers towards ensuring a resilient healthcare delivery system in Liberia in the midst of a pandemic.
Meanwhile, Madam Brandy has urged Liberian journalists to constructively criticize and carry out their investigations in a professional manner, but at the same time, sensitize and encourage Liberians to turn out en masse to be vaccinated against the pandemic.
She commended UNICEF for supporting the efforts of the Liberian government in several sectors, including health and education through local implementing partners.
She lauded Madam Juli Endee and her team for always standing in the gap in readiness to help ensure that Liberia is peaceful and healthy for all.
For his part, the UNICEF Deputy Representative to Liberia, Amadou Alesene Cisse, underscored the need for the right information to be provided to guarantee the safety and health of children in the country.
He observed that children will be safe from other diseases, including COVID-19 if adequate information is provided on immunization
He noted that the international agency remains supportive to the Government of Liberia, through its relevant entities, including the Ministry of Health and partners to encourage parents and others to take the vaccine.
Mr. Cisse Sesay pointed out that the J & J vaccine is safe and free and as such, UNICEF encourages citizens and others above 18 years to turn out and get their doses of the vaccines.
Giving an overview of the project earlier, the Executive Director of the LCP, Madam Juli Endee disclosed that the campaign is a pilot project which will cover three counties, including Montserrado, Bomi and Margibi.
She pointed out that the campaign will also help ensure that citizens continue to follow the preventive measures put in place by health authorities to curb the spread of the virus in the communities.
“We have signed an agreement with UNICEF to go into the communities and engage the communities; hold advocacy meetings with our elders and our leaders in the communities. We will also do outreach where our team will go to talk to people about going to take their vaccines and also remind them about prevention. We are sincere in what we do and we will start with a real force within the communities. We will also be coming to the traditional leaders to sit with them and encourage their people to take the vaccines”.
Madam Endee, however, used the occasion to express thanks and appreciation to UNICEF-Liberia for prioritizing and supporting the workings of the LCP over the years.
According to her, the international body has been very instrumental in building the capacities of LCP leaders and staffs.
She expressed the hope that the campaign will be extended to other counties in Liberia in the future.