Health

Ebola vaccine study gains momentum here

The ongoing PREVAIL Ebola vaccine study has taken roots in Liberia with many communities embracing the idea of helping to find solution to an international public health problem. PREVAIL is the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia, a joint Liberia-US clinical research program established in 2014 in response to a request by former Liberian Health Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale to then U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary, Sylvia Burwell to assist Liberia develop vaccines and therapeutics to tackle Ebola.


The month of October witnessed a significant milestone as far as the vaccine study is concern as more and more people were covered through
community engagements. This is in addition to the publication of the results from the first vaccine study in 2015 by the New England Journal of Medicine on October 12 followed by the subsequent release to the local media by Dr. Fatorma Bolay, Co-Principal Investigator of the Ebola vaccine study.

Ebola killed more than 11,000 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in an outbreak in 2014-15 and Dr. Bolay said the results demonstrate that Liberia is poised to make a telling contribution to global public health.

Community engagements on the Vaccine Study and the newly introduced Genomic study were held in October across Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties. This means that over 1500 community members and key stakeholders have been directly reached with the needed information about the various studies being conducted in Liberia aimed at finding lasting solution to the Ebola Virus Disease.

Some of the communities visited include, Harmon Hill Community in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Tire Shop Community at Redhill Field in Virginia outside Monrovia, Wein Town Community in Paynesville, Unification City in Margibi County and Senje, Grand Cape Mount County, respectively.
At the Wein Town Community in particular, the residents welcomed the Ebola Vaccine Study being conducted by PREVAIL especially, as it was
the first time for community engagement on the study to reach their community.

The residents including Rev. Lassana Gebah said it is important for Liberians to take advantage of the ongoing Ebola Vaccine study by enrolling into the program.  Rev. Gebah was particularly pleased with the fact that PREVAIL has come to their area to do an awareness. Harmon Hill is one of the communities that were badly affected by the Ebola outbreak in Tubmanburg, Bomi County and news of the effectiveness from the first vaccine study was received with great excitements by the residents during another engagement meeting there.

Elder Philip Swen in particular said, “We lost about 30 persons in this community alone and so we are happy that the Liberian government and
the American government are trying their best to find a vaccine for Ebola. We hope you people will keep up this awareness so that our sons
and daughters will be encouraged to join the study”.

PREVAIL social Mobilization and Community Engagement Partner, Liberia Crusaders for Peace has been spearheading those community engagement efforts aimed at garnering public participation in the Ebola Vaccine study. Speaking during a meeting in Unification City, Mr. Daniel Bumie of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace stressed the significance of community participation, noting that the research cannot be successful without them. Bumie said the ongoing vaccine study is in the best interest of Liberia and it depends on Liberians themselves to make the historic
project works.

According to him, the success of PREVAIL Ebola Virus research in Liberia has been largely down to the involvement of the community people and as such urged them to continue their cooperation. Meanwhile, the Principal Investigator of the Ebola Natural History Study Dr. Mosoka Fallah, has underscored the crucial role of the media in scientific research.

Dr. Fallah attributes the success so far of PREVAIL to the important role the media continues to play in taking the key messages to the people.
He was speaking recently in Tubmanburg, Bomi County at the close of a one-day training workshop on health reporting for Journalists in Western Liberia. The training highlighted both the Ebola Vaccine Study and the Genomic Study being conducted by PREVAIL.

Dr. Fallah said it was important for the reporters to understand the merits of the research so that they will communicate the right kind of messages to the local population.

By Bridgett Milton

NPHIL wants food safety law

The Deputy Director General of newly created National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) Dr. Masoka Fallah says Liberia needs food safety law, having recognized food to be an agent of disease and that people are interdependent.


Speaking over the weekend when government launched the National Codex Committee in Monrovia, Dr. Fallah said food is an agent of disease, urging the need for the setting up of surveillance to protect food here.

While emphasizing the goodness of food safety on account of adding value to what is eaten on a daily basis, Dr. Fallah reveals that the lack of proper measure in place to guide food products has over the pass time caused much sickness in Liberia.

At the NPHIL, he says the institution’s job is mainly focused on surveillance aimed at devel-op effective system to diagnose diseases, get to the source and mitigate the risk of spreading them to other parts of the country.

“Recently we had a joint operation to tackle food and water surveillance because they are agent of disease,” Dr. Fallah says.

He explains that the idea behind developing food and water surveillance system is to put Li-beria on path with other neighboring countries that have instituted some measures to protect their food products.

According to the NPHIL Deputy Director General, the issues of capacity building and infra-structure are also relevant, urging the the Ministry of Health, NPHIL, Commerce Ministry and others to form intercessory collaboration to address the issue of food safety.

He notes that the recent performance of these institutions and other stakeholders has made some gains, including the adoption of the Food Safety Act. Also speaking, UNAIDS Country Director Dr. Miriam Chipimo lashed at the Legislature here for not handling the issue of food safety with seriousness. She calls for serious national attention on food security, on grounds that Liberia’s neighbors do have these things in place.

By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Monrovia Mayor applauds LSCI

The Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) under the astute leadership of Mayor Clara Doe-Mvogo has heaped praises on H. Kwaku Addy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Liberia Services Corporation Incorporated (LSCI) for exhibiting high degree of professionalism in the discharge of its duty.


Speaking at the occasion marking the commemoration of Liberia’s 170th Flag Day celebration held in Paynesville City outside Monrovia, Mayor Doe-Mvogo further lauds LSCI for what she terms true sense of commitment the entity continues to show in helping the city government to keep Monrovia “Clean Green and Save”.

The Liberia Services Corporation Incorporated is a Liberian-owned company with over 150 employees, mostly college students, who are charged with the duty to manage Vehicles Street parking activity on horizontal streets in central Monrovia in a five (5) year revenue sharing partnership agreement with the city government.

According to Mayor Doe-Mvogo, LSCI operation has helped greatly to control the huge traffic congestion, and also curtail abandonment of vehicles in the principal streets of Monrovia, a situation, which she notes, has brought some level of relief to businesses in the city.

The Mayor also applauds the entity for adhering to terms and condition as stipulated in the agreement reached by both parties, and praises LSCI boss H. Kwaku Addy for the timely manner in which his entity has always remitted MCC share of proceeds generated from the parking scheme, while applying suitable labor practice to his employees.
She notes that street parking scheme as initiated by her predecessor Madam Mary T. Broh, was not intended for profit making, rather to provide job opportunity for college students.

For his part, LSCI boss Addy assures the Monrovia City Mayor of his company’s commitment to buttressing the city government’s effort to ensure that jobs opportunities are created for young Liberians in their strive to attain higher and quality education.

He pledges full cooperation with MCC aimed at fostering cordial working relationship for the betterment of Monrovia City, extends appreciation to Mayor Doe-Mvogo and her core of officers for affording him the opportunity to contribute the upliftment of youth empowerment.

Addy also cautions his employees and the country’s vast youthful population to refrain from acts that would undermine their smooth growth and to avoid vices that could place them in detrimental circumstances.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

New primary health center opens in kakata

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over the weekend dedicated Waterfield Primary Healthcare Center Laboratory, Ultrasound and Telemedicine Departments in Kakata, Margibi County.


Mrs. Sirleaf commended the Proprietress & Founder, Dr. Christiana Hena for giving back to the community adding: “We are here to recognize a Liberian for her courage, dedication and passion to come back and give to her people; Just think of all Liberians who have achieved that will decide to come back and give like what she has done,” President Sirleaf noted.

President Sirleaf made the statement on Friday, November 3, 2017 when she cut the ribbon to the newly constructed Healthcare Center under the request of Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia in Kakata.

An Executive Mansion release said President Sirleaf who appeared thrilled by Dr. Hena’s initiative to construct the Health Center, Ultrasound and Telemedicine Departments in county said this should serve as an inspiration and motivation to other Liberian Doctors who have gone out in other parts of the world including the United States of America and achieved to come home and give to their community like Dr. Hena has done.

She said Liberians make the sacrifice even though sometimes they might not have the resources but they have the skills and talents and are willing to put them to work not only for themselves but for the good of others. She praised Dr. Hena for coming home and taking the courage, which according to her is not often found in the Liberian society because it takes extreme passion and courage to do so.

President Sirleaf used the occasion to commend Dr. Christiana Hena for her professionalism, passion for her country. She then appointed Dr. Hena as her private and family doctor and pledged to perform her annual medical checkup at the Center given the set up and the quality of technology she had seen. She lauded international partners and residents of the community who contributed and turnout in their numbers to witness the ceremony and for closely working with Dr. Hena and her partners in acquiring equipment, resources including the land among others on which the facility is sited.

Together, she said everyone can achieve something in rebuilding the country, like what Dr. Hena and her partners have done. The Liberian leader however expressed serious disappointment in the absence of the Minister of Heath and Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer stressing they should have been here to grace this occasion and walk through these facilities. She however said she will encourage them and make show they come to the facility and familiarize themselves with activities at the center.

Speaking further, the Liberian leader paid tribute to the father of Dr. Christiana Hena, Dominic Hena who according to her was one of those recognized and honored during this year Independence Day Celebration for his selfless and outstanding contribution made to society. She thanked him for his service to the country, which she said was worth commending.

For her part, the Proprietress & Founder of the Waterfield Primary Healthcare Center, Dr. Christiana Hena thanked President Sirleaf for gracing the occasion and celebrating with them stressing. “Thank you Madam President, for being here today; Today is a one of celebration.” She informed President Sirleaf that over 36 communities around Kakata will benefit from services, which will be rendered including Dental Care, Laboratory and eye check, among others.

District #8 candidate identifies with government clinic

Montserrado County District #8 representative candidate James Fallah has donated asserted medical drugs valued at $42, 000.00LD to the government - owned Soniewen Clinic, Soniewen Community.


Presenting the items to Soniewen Clinic Officer - in- Charge Irene Sherman-Esiri, Mr. Fallah said the donation was a of identifying with the health facility in the wake of alleged lack of government assistance to the clinic.

The former student activist listed boxes of paracetamol, alcohol, and tissue as items donated, saying they his initial contribution to the clinic.

Mr. Fallah who once lived in the vicinity of the clinic says he is saddened that since the departure of International Non-Governmental Organization Medecins Du Monde from the clinic, the facility allegedly continues to experience shortage of essential drugs to cater to sick people especially women and children.

Receiving the donation, Soniewen Clinic Officer-In-Charge Irene Sherman-Esiri expressed gratitude to Mr. Fallah, emphasizing the need for goodwill Liberians and organizations to come to the aid of the clinic.

Madam Esiri calls for essential medical items needed to provide medical services to the people, adding that the medical center is experiencing serious problem due to the alleged failure of the Ministry of Health to provide essential needed materials.

She claims that government has attributed the challenge to drugs shortage at its central warehouse in the country.

Madam Eisir further calls the public to contribute medical drugs such as amoxicillin, cloranfenicol, flagyl, and material for the treatment of women and children who are the most recorded patients visiting the health center to seek medical attention.

She recalls that several months back, Mr. Fallah made similar donation to the health center during the Ebola crisis while he was then working with the Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS).

According to her, the donation at the time, helped to fight the disease in the community. Mr. Fallah is a lecturer at the UMU, AMEU, AMEZU, and several high schools in Monrovia.

By Emmanuel Mondaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Health workers prepare for elections

Authorities at the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHWUL) say elections will be conducted on 9 September to choose a new corps of officers that will steer the affairs of the institution.


NAHWUL Elections Commission told a news conference on Wednesday, 16 August that health workers and medical practitioners here will go to Bong County to elect their new officials in September.

NAHWUL is encouraging individuals interested in contesting for positions to submit their letters of application with the position of interest clearly indicated, along with current CV and three references.

It says Liberian citizens aged 25 or above, employed in the health sector and have graduated from high school are eligible to submit application. The guideline bars applications from Liberian health workers who are occupying positions such as minister, deputy minister, assistant minister, program director, departmental directors, county health officers, medical director, hospital administrators, and human resource managers.

NAHWUL Secretary General Mr. George Poe Williams says to revamp the organization for union status, a conference was organized last week by executives of institution and the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC) in Gardnersville.

“There have been a lot of obstacles in the way by officials of government to prevent the organization from gaining full union status for the past three years,” Mr. Williams claims.
He insists that there is nothing in the civil servant standing orders that stops civil servants from organizing a trade union or establishing a union, opposed to what he claims government has been suggesting.

According to Mr. Williams, NAHWUL has met requirements in a program allegedly introduced by government called ‘Organizing and Reorganizing of Trade Unions’ across the country.

“We are no longer National Health Workers Association Liberia, but we are now the National Health Workers Union of Liberia,” he proclaims, and adds that becoming a union will give them the mantle to collective bargaining rights and to sit at the table with employers and discuss issues on the conditions of work including benefits for the workers.

He believes that government has no reason to prevent certificating the health workers on their union status on grounds that they have completed the process of organizing and reorganizing, and LLC has agreed to ensure that the organization is formulated to represent both public and private health workers of Liberia.

By Lewis S. Teh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

 

Liberia considers partnership on SDGs

Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara has encouraged the need to have collaboration to identify innovative and cost effective solutions to complex policy challenges in the midst of limited resources in order to achieve priorities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


“Nonetheless these challenges, Liberia has made some progress towards domesticating SDGs,” Mr. Kamara said at a one - day SDGs symposium held at the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia on Monday. 14 August.

He says in a keynote address that many of the participants at the symposium had common thought on sustainable development in specific areas like economic transformation and poverty reduction, improvement in education and health, development of science and technology, environmental sustainability, and peace and security.

Unfortunately, the Finance Minister observes that “resources are limited,” and therefore demand collaboration to identify innovative and cost effective solutions to these complex policy challenges.

He emphasizes the great importance of strengthening partnership with other governments throughout Africa and non - government stakeholders.

In line with a long term vision outlined in the Agenda 2063 for Africa … that requires collaboration of both governments and non-government stakeholders, Mr. Kamara encourages coordination of works and building of signages to maximize the impact of “our” collective resources.
Mr. Kamara recalls that the Ebola outbreak here and the decline of global commodity prices were two shocks that caused severe devastation in Liberia and the regional economic growth.

But in a reflection, he says in November 2015, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in collaborating with Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo Information Services (LISGIS), through UNDP support held a dialogue in Buchanan on enhancing capacity and statistical condition for SDGs domestication.

According to him, the dialogue provided participants of the opportunity to prioritize goals of the SDGs that would be relevant to the development objectives of the country.

Mr. Kamara expresses hope that the SDG Center for Africa Director General Dr. Belay E. Begashaw’s visit here would help participants to assess Liberia’s progress and help stakeholders gain more knowledge and understanding to further improve Liberia’s effort towards achieving the SDGs.

He asked participants to think strategically about priority areas where multi-stakeholders cooperation can yield fruitful results.

Minister of State Minister Sylvester Grigsby recalls Liberia’s pivotal role in the formulation of the goals in the SDG, first as co-chair of the MDGs which was succeeded by the SDGs, and later heading the High Level Panel (HLP) for Africa in drafting the African Position.

As such, Mr. Grigsby says it is very important for Liberia to review progress that has been made towards the implementation of these very important goals which in a way give the participants the index of the kind of progress made towards national development.

The symposium witnessed presentations from different government ministries and agencies including Post and telecommunication, Agriculture, Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection, Water and Sewer, among others.

--By Winston W. Parley

GVL provides safe drinking water for locals in Sinoe

As part of its commitment to provide safe drinking water for its host communities, Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) and citizens of Tarjuowon District in Sinoe County on Wednesday 9 July 2017 broke grounds for the construction of additional two new hand pumps in Wiah town and One Way communities.


These facilities when completed will provide safe drinking water for more than 300 community residents. Recently, the company constructed six new hand pumps and rehabilitated over 20 in Tarjuowon while another six were rehabilitated and turned over in Butaw District for six communities which are currently providing safe drinking water for more than 5000 community residents in Butaw and Tarjuowon Districts.

The refurbishing of these hand pumps by the oil palm developer seeks to address the shortages of safe drinking water in these communities and is a clear manifestation of the company's continuous commitment to ending rural poverty in Southeast Liberia.

Speaking at a brief ground breaking ceremony, women representative Esther Shegbeh, youth leader Shelton Que, Joseph Tuley-Chairman, community representative committee, and City Mayor Hon.David Johnson expressed their enthusiasm and lauded the Management of GVL for the project and pledged that the facilities when completed will be properly managed and used for its intended purpose

GVL Assistant Manager for Community Affairs and Social Sustainability, Willie S.W. Chea said the construction of these hand pumps in Tarjuowon is in fulfillment of the memorandum of understanding signed with the communities in 2013 and GVL continues commitments to provide safe drinking water for its host communities. “GVL is committed to providing these basic services to our host communities to improve their living conditions. This is one of the most economical and simple solutions for providing a collective supply of drinking water in rural areas; it improves the conditions of hygiene and reduces the likelihoods of locals being infected with waterborne diseases. “He said.

Article 9 of the GVL concession agreement and principles 4.4 of the Roundtable on Sustainable Oil Palm (RSPO), requires the company to ensure all employees and residential communities within its developed areas are supplied on a regular basis with clean and safe drinking water as a practice of modern oil palm industry standards.

GVL remains committed to improving the livelyhoods ot its host communities and the implementation of MOU projects. it can be re-called that GVL and the Butaw community jointly broken grounds for the construction of US$120,000 eight classroom annex and a teacher quarter at the Butaw Junior High School for the elevation of the school to senior secondary high School level and dedicated a US$ 52,000 raod linking Tugbeh village to Jimmy Doe Town in Ceedor, Butaw District, Sinoe county

 

New eye sight center in Paynesville

A new center for eyes testing has formally opened in 72nd community, Paynesville City, suburb of Monrovia, bringing to three, the number of eye centers here. New Eye Sight Center was opened recently during a ceremony held in Paynesville City.


Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Robert Fohn Dolo, who officially declared the facility opened, says the center in collaboration with the Greater Lions Club of Monrovia has started an outreach program in several counties, including Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Margibi and Nimba, respectively, to cater to people suffering from eye problems.

Mr. Dolo notes that the number of eye patients in Liberia has increased across the country more than during the 70s and 80s, adding that most eye problems are caused by victims’ inability to seek early consultation and treatment.

He lauds President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her interest in the institution and concern shown for visually-impaired people. Meanwhile, the Optometrist at the Center, Dr. Catherine Gaisie, who also spoke at the occasion, warns people suffering eye-related problem to avoid using glasses not prescribed by eye doctors, saying that it creates serious problem for users.

Dr. Gaisie explains that as people get older, they experience many eye diseases, which attack bodily parts, including cataract and glaucoma, which in some insistences, result from hypertension.
For their part, the Cataract Surgeons at the New Eye Center, Ms. Jetty Zegbeh and Madam Youngor Zayzay, say that the natural eye enables patients to see clearly and from distance unlike artificial or prosthesis eye.
They explain that people experiencing severe pain in the eye risk going blind, adding that it is advisable for such patients to undergo eye surgery to avoid painful blind eye.
According to them, prosthesis or false eye cannot make one suffering from eye problem to see.

Phebe Hospital graduates 66

The Phebe Paramedical Training Program (PTP) in Bong County, central Liberia has graduated 66 candidates after completion of three years of study.
The graduates were awarded Diplomas Saturday, 22 July during the 36th Commencement program of the PTP held at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church on the Phebe Hospital Compound in Suakoko, Bong County.


The 66 graduates are from six medical disciplines including; Nurse Midwifery (4 candidates), Nurse Anesthesia (7), Certified Midwifery Bridging (6), Professional Midwifery (23), and 26 candidates from the Medical Laboratory Technology Programs.
Presenting the graduates to the Medical Director of the Phebe Hospital, the Director of the Phebe Training Programs, Humphrey G. Loweal reflected on the achievements of the institution over the years
in developing the nation’s health workforce, especially being the only Pre-Service Institution teaching Anesthesia in Liberia. Among the graduates is the first male nurse midwife in Liberia.

Mr. Loweal appeals to members of the Bong Legislative Caucus to initiate the process of proposing a bill for the PTP to be elevated from a Diploma to a Degree granting institution.

Serving as guestspeaker, the Chief of Party (COP) for the Maternal and Child Survival Program’s (MCSP) Human Resources for Health (HRH) Project Mrs. Marion Subah cautions the graduates that “they were ending their days as students, but are beginning their professional careers” to help address the shortage of qualified human resources for health.

She stresses the important role Mid-level Health care workers play in providing health care, adding, “You are the first that a person needing service and quality care sees, the first faces of the health system
that people meet, even newborn babies”.

Mrs. Subah informs the graduates that as Health Care Workers, their professional mission is to serve the people and communities of Liberia by “making sure their health care needs are met with the highest of standards as you provide quality care according to international standards within a national framework”.
She pledges her organization’s support with funding from U. S. Agency for International Development to transforming Pre-Service Education in Liberia so that patients receive quality services appropriate to their needs at the health facilities.

Mrs. Subah adds that as part of the Pre-Service Curriculum and Practice, there is a special emphasis on “Quality and Respectful Care” to help future health care workers (Nurses, Lab Technicians, Nurse Anesthetics and Midwives) develop a health “bedside manner” – to treat patients with empathy and compassion in addition to providing care of the highest quality.

By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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