Monrovia – Two years ago, on August 8, 2014 the World Health Organization declared the West Africa Ebola outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
The virus destroyed the lives of more than 4,810 people in Liberia, rapidly in healthcare facilities and communities without regular access to water, good sanitation or rigorous hygiene practices.
So, on Monday, August 8, 2016, the second anniversary of the declaration of Ebola as a global health emergency, WaterAid Liberia joined WASH Stake holders and civil society organizations to call on the government of Liberia to deliver on promises made to strengthen health care systems, through the provision of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene.
In a joint communiqué, the Liberian government has been urged to ensure that post Ebola Recovery for water, sanitation and hygiene be given a serious priority.
A letter was presented to government, through the Health Ministry Monday in Monrovia.
Presenting the letter to Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Francis Kateh, the Chairman of the Liberia WASH CSOs Network, Prince Kreplah said the action by the group is intended to invigorate government’s efforts to improve the health sector.
Mr. Kreplah however used the occasion to commend the government for some strives made to improve WASH in health care facilities across the country, adding that the government should exert more efforts to deliver on its Health and WASH promises.
In response, the Deputy Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. Francis Kateh thanked WaterAid and WASH CSO partners for the step taken.
Dr. Kateh described the issue of Water, Sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as very crucial in the health care delivery system of the country.
He used the occasion to appeal to Liberians to seriously take their health seriously, especially regarding the issue of water and the growing level of alcohol consumption by young people.
He said alcohol consumption is posing serious health problems, resulting to the destruction of lives.
Following the presentation of the joint letter to the Health Ministry, a Press Conference was latter held to address key health and WASH issues with a focus on the 2nd anniversary of the declaration of Ebola as a global health emergency.
Reading the Statement, the Chairman of the Liberia NGOs Network, George Kayah commended the government of Liberia and development partners for steps taken to improve WASH and health care delivery.
Mr. Kayah noted that despite these efforts on the part of government, there still remain serious deficiencies in water, sanitation and hygiene in rural communities, hospitals and clinics.
He said reports show that heath care facilities still lack water, sanitation and hygiene services in the country.
The CSO group called on government to ensure that Post Ebola Recovery for WASH is given serious priority, support for a single WASH Governance System and an increase of WASH budgetary allocation.
Also making comments at the Press Conference, the WASH Coordinator at the Health Ministry, Wataku Kortima disclosed that the government of Liberia has put in place WASH protocols to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene play a key role in the health care delivery system of the country.
Mr. Kortimai pointed out that collaborative efforts are needed from CSO actors as well as Liberians to ensure that challenges affecting the health sector are resolved.
He asserted that the Health Ministry has begun the training of health care workers on WASH protocols and the essence of WASH in Health.
Speaking on behalf of the British Charity, WaterAid in Liberia, the Program Effectiveness Coordinator, Samuel Quirmolue indicated that WaterAid will continue to support the government of Liberia and local partners in the sector to improve WASH across the country.
Mr. Quirmolue noted that his entity remains committed to the process of making WASH accessible.
For her part, the Policy Officer of WaterAid , Patience Zayzay commended CSOs for taking such bold steps, reminding Government and partners about commitments to strengthen the Health delivery System of the country.
Ms Zazay revealed that WASH plays a pivotal role in the fight against the Ebola virus, and as such WASH should be taken seriously by all Liberians.
A base line report released on water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities in 2015 found out that some 95% health facilities do not meet the Ministry of Health Standards on water quantity for all purposes.
More than 50% of health facilities do not have a protected year–round source of water, and 20% do not have any protected source on site.
Hope the Government of Liberia will take seriously the call by WaterAid, CSOs and other WASH Partners and act positively to deliver on WASH Promises as Part of the 2nd Anniversary of Ebola as Global Health Emergency.
Meanwhile, Sierra Leone and Liberia risk new deadly epidemics akin to the impact of the Ebola virus due to lack of clean water and hygienic conditions in most homes, an NGO warned Tuesday.
WaterAid said the two provisions were the “first line of defence” against infectious diseases but needed to be put into place before outbreaks began.
In Sierra Leone, more than 37 percent of people do not have access to clean water, the British-based group said in a statement. In Liberia, the figure is 24.5 percent.
When it comes to basic sanitation, WaterAid said the figures were even higher—86.7 percent of people in Sierra Leone and just over 83 percent in Liberia live without access to it.
“The terrible suffering of the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia during the Ebola crisis is at high risk of being repeated in another disease epidemic if we do not see action to improve water, sanitation and hygiene practices in our communities, schools and healthcare facilities,” WaterAid’s Joe Lambongang said in the statement.
“These basic provisions are the first line of defence against infectious diseases including Ebola.
“To ask healthcare professionals to battle an epidemic without clean water, safe toilets and somewhere to wash their hands is unrealistic and needlessly puts lives at risk,” he added.
In June, Liberia said it was free of Ebola, meaning there were no known cases in West Africa of the tropical virus that left more than 11,300 people dead in the region since late 2013.
The World Health Organization declared an end on June 1 to Ebola cases in Guinea—where it first broke out in December 2013—and in Sierra Leone on March 17.
According Sierra Leone’s Health Ministry figures, 30 percent of the population dies every year of diseases passed on by contaminated water.
Liberia At Risk of Another Epidemic
8 August 2016
The Minister of Health
Republic of Liberia
Dear Honourable Minister:
On the second anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of Ebola as a health emergency of global concern, we the undersigned have joined together to call on the government of Liberia to deliver on her promise to strengthen healthcare systems, including proper access to water, sanitation and improved hygiene practices.
The Ebola virus claimed the lives of4810 people in Liberia and left lasting impact on about tens of thousands more. The loss of hundreds of dedicated health workers to this terrible disease is still felt today. (CDC Ebola outbreak in West Africa-case counts April 13, 2016 updated Report).
However, two years later, there remain serious deficiencies in water, sanitation and hygiene in communities, hospitals and clinics. We are at risk of another epidemic. This terrible suffering is at risk of being repeated. We know the tools to help stop future outbreaks. But we need to put these into action.
The governments of Liberia have pledged alongside all members of the United Nations to deliver water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030, as part of the UN Global Goals on sustainable development. We need more tangible actions to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
In furtherance to this communication, a joint press conference will be held on the 8th of August at 12noon by CSOs WASH advocacy groups in collaboration with WaterAid. It is essential that we see political priority and funding for water, sanitation and hygiene as basic building blocks of good health and development.
Joe Lambongang, Acting Country Director
WaterAid Transboundary – Liberia and Sierra Leone
Prince D. Kreplah,
National Executive Director, Citizens United to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia; Chairman, Liberia CSOs WASH Network and National Vice Chairman, National Civil Society Council of Liberia
David P. Flomo, Finance Officer
Citizens Unite to Promote Peace & Democracy in Liberia (CUPPADL)
and Finance Officer, Liberia CSOs WASH Network
Mr. Kune B. Massally, Executive Director
SHALOM INC (Liberia)
Timothy Kpeh, National Executive Director
United Youth for Peace, Education, Transparency & Development in Liberia (UYPETDL) and National Coordinator, Youth and Disabilities WASH Network
Alexander Stevens, Representative
Margibi County CSOs WASH Network
SonponWeah II, Head of Advocacy & Peace-building
The Association of Evangelicals of Liberia (AEL) and WASH Advocacy focus, AEL and TearFund
Augustine N. Myers, Chairman
WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia
Sammenie O. Sydney, National Executive Director
Brighter Initiatives for Revitalization & Development (BIRD)-Liberia
Abdullai Kamara, President
Press Union of Liberia
St John York, Secretary General
Inter Religious Council of LIBERIA
James M. Yarsiah, Sr., Executive Director
Rights and Rice Foundation
George B. Karyah, National Chairman
Liberia NGOs Network,( LINNK)
Korboi Jallah, County Coordinator/Board Member
Liberia CSOs WASH Network and River Gee WASH Network
Estella Nelson, President/Founder, Liberia Women Media Action Committee
Liberia Women Democracy Radio (LWDR FM 91.1)