Liberia: Pres. Weah to Hold Quarterly Meeting with Health Stakeholders

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As He Dedicates First Polio Emergency Operations Center for Liberia

Monrovia – President George Manneh Weah has told health stakeholders that his administration will soon begin holding quarterly meetings with them so as to keep fully abreast with unfolding events in the health sector.

The President made the commitment last Friday, February 5, when he formally commissioned the first-ever state of the art National Polio Emergency Operations Center for the nation.

Pres. Weah said that the dedication and commissioning of the new National Polio Emergency Operations Center, is essential to undercutting public health threats especially as it relates to the crippling disease. 

He lauded the Ministry of Health and partners for aggressively working to turn public health threats, especially the current COVID-19 outbreak at an acceptable level.

“This Polio Emergency Operation Center is essential to better coordinate and conduct analysis, which is key to my government’s agenda. It will serve as a central command to coordinate all efforts of the fight against polio,” he said.

“I was informed that Liberia was among the first to be declared wide polio free in August 2010. The government regrettably detected the emergence of two new cases of polio from neighboring Cotê d’Ivoire. Liberia has the capacity to mitigate public health threats and I call on all health workers, partners to ensure our children are immunized,” the President said.

The Liberian leader stressed that global partnership is key in the advancement of global health and so thanked all the health stakeholders in the fight against diseases. 

He lauded the WHO, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, CDC, etc, for the support in the fight to eradicating polio from Liberia once more. 

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina S. Jallah, said the EOC is important in strengthening Liberia’s capacity in dealing with the polio and other vaccines-preventable diseases. 

“This ECO is important in dealing with data analysis and essential for management of information and sharing,” she stated. 

She also thanked the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), WHO, UNICEF, and other partners in joint coordination efforts since the early detection of the polio virus from neighboring Cotê d’Ivoire in December of 2020. 

The Health Minister also called for partnership for intensive polio vaccination campaign and support for detection of polio cases importation over the coming months.

“I called on all parents to take their children for the polio vaccination to avoid any child from coming down with the polio virus.”

Speaking earlier, UN Resident Coordinator to Liberia, Mr. Neils Scott, Congratulated the Weah-led government and partners for doing all to eradicate polio. 

Mr. Scott told the audience that the center will serve as a point for coordinating all the Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners in the fight of polio from Liberia. “It is therefore our responsibility as partners to work together in the fight against polio. The UN remains committed to working with the Liberian government and other partners in this fight.” 

He informed the audience that the United Nations stands ready to support with vaccines and cold-chain facilities for the rollout of the polio vaccination. 

Also, for the Voluntary Services Overseas International, the group that renovated the building is now being used as the Polio Emergency Center on Capitol Bypass, Mr. Philip Goodwin, who spoke via virtual link, stated that proper coordination and aggressive immunization is key to polio eradication. 

He lauded the tremendous support of the Ministry of Health in the refurbishing one wing of the old maternity center to be used as the EOC.

“These facilities are well equipped to responding to other vaccine preventable diseases, especially polio.” Mr. Goodwin said. He couldn’t be present for the formal commissioning ceremony due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. 

For her part, the Director-General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Ms. Jane MaCauley, said the public health emergency center, which was established during the Ebola epidemic, has helped in management of various public health emergencies including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

She disclosed that it has helped in the collection of data and analysis, including surge capacity which have been very essential to the response efforts. 

The POC remains very essential to the management of cases of pandemic and other outbreaks across the country. 

“Today we are happy that another emergency operational center is welcoming and will go a long way in mitigating public health threats.”

“Mr. President, this EOC with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundational is a worthy venture which will help Liberia interrupt major public health threats and emergencies,” The DG of NPHIL said. 

Liberia was declared polio free in August of 2010 and was certificated.

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