Liberia: National Civil Society Council Calls On Government To Outsource Covid-19 Testing

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Monrovia – In the wake of health officials’ admittance that some testing agents are receiving bribe to change the results of people testing positive for COVID-19, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) has called on the Government of Liberia to immediately outsource the testing processes to a more professional and trusted group like the World Health Organization to stop people from dying unnecessarily.

“We no longer have a modicum of trust and an iota of belief in those handling the testing and result processes, the NCSCL said in a statement issued through its national chairperson, Loretta Pope-Kai.

The NCSCL outlined that key criterion in the outsourcing of the testing in Liberia should be the technological and digitalization of the entire system to boost the accuracy of the results from the beginning to the end of the process.

This, the council believes, will give Liberians and its international partners confidence in the handling of the COVID-19 situation on the ground.

The NCSCL: “It would make the world to know that, like other countries around us, Liberia is serious about our fight against this deadly virus. The selected company should have the required expertise, the right technology and track record of handling such assignment. And selection of the company should be done in a transparent manner in keeping required procurement laws of Liberia.”

In recent weeks, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) made troubling revelation that some of its testing agents were accepting bribes to change results of people testing positive to escape quarantine.  NPHIL said the it has launched a robust investigation to ensure those involved are punished according to law.

Speaking on the issue for the first time, the Civil Society Council said it is troubled and appalled by the revelation made by NPHIL, alluding to the unprofessional, unethical and dangerous practice of extortion and fraud in the national COVID-19 testing and results processes.

Excerpt: “We are particularly shocked and worried about reports of sample collectors allegedly creating new codes and submitting different test samples for individuals who have already tested positive of COVID-19. To hear that sample collectors are tempering with critical information of those who have already tested positive is ungodly, uncivilized and abominable!”

The CSO Council further said, for testing agents to have accepted money for the purpose of changing the codes and statuses of and allowing COVID-19 patients to walk freely to and further infest other people with the Delta variant of this virus equates only to high treason and or dangerous conspiracy against the state.

 The CSO Council also expressed concern over what it termed as the unprofessional manner in which the testing is done, particularly at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) and some of the ports of entry. It pointed that the use of cotton buds to collect samples, the crowdedness of the testing sessions, the gross disregard for social distancing are some of the unprofessionalism and lack of adherence to the health protocols by the very health practitioners which the council believes should be brought to light.

Just by this news, the Council said, the validity and reliability of the testing and result processes surrounding the COVID- 19 pandemic in Liberia has been compromised; especially when sample collectors are being allegedly bribed to change results for people testing positive of the virus.

By these information, one can safely conclude that the government’s handling of the pandemic is untrusted and unreliable, the Council said.

It further that at a time the country’s health system lacks the reliance and critical resilience to face, fight, contain and defeat COVID-19, people entrusted to handle the fight on the virus have to demonstrate extreme levels of patriotism.

The Council said this is more compelling when global health experts are predicting terrible future for the African people in the face of the fight on COVID-19.

It added: “Accepting bribes to change results instead of quarantining suspected and infected individuals to save our existence as a country and people is totally uncouth and unacceptable. In fact, it is particularly more scaring and should be seen as our biggest insecurity as a nation and a people. Health is wealth and for a country and people to undertake any meaningful project depends largely on the health of the nation.”

‘Name and Shame Perpetrators

In addition to the call for outsourcing, the CSO Council wants the government of Liberia to immediately investigate these ‘grave’ allegations and ensure that those who are culpable are brought to justice.

As a way to commence this investigation, the Council demands the naming and shaming of all suspected persons who may have been involved with this ‘unethical’ practice.

It said: “To the health of the nation, there should be no sacred cows! We are even appalled that since then, the NPHIL and the government have yet to release the names and identities of those involved in this conspiracy against the state. Those involved in this unwholesome practice are the real enemies of the state, who we must make an example of.”

‘Fight for the heart and soul of Sweet Liberia’

Meanwhile, the Council, in the release called on Liberians to keep hope alive, remain steadfast and work for the heart and soul of the nation on the occasion marking its 174th Independence anniversary.

“Let us continue to fight for the heart and soul of our beloved sweet land of liberty. Let us continue to pray for a better Liberia. But importantly also, let us continue to work for a better Liberia. And these can be achieved through patriotism and hard work.”

It called on all Liberians, in and out of government to use this year’s Independence Day to renew their commitments and hope in the future of Liberia.

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