Health hazard threatens Vai Town

Residents of Vai Town Community Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to flag poor sanitary environment in the community. Speaking in an interview, a spokesperson for the community, Sheick A.M. Sheriff, explains the protest was intended to alert requisite authorities about constant pollution of the area allegedly by two business institutions, Jetty Trading Company and T. Choithram and Sons Company, respectively operating in Vai Town.

According to him, T. Choithram and Sons Company is always involved in throwing pollutants in the community after offloading its containers. Jetty Trading Company’s septic tanks usually overflow in the community whenever it rains, Mr. Sheriff explains.

One resident of the community, Moivee Massaley, laments the deplorable condition of the community, and calls on government for quick intervention. Massaley continues that the matter is causing serious environmental hazard for residents has the propensity to undermine health of the local population.Managements of both business institutions were not available for comment.

Lofa Maternal and Newborn Health Conference adopts 22-Count Resolutions

Stakeholders at the end of a two-day Maternal and Newborn Health Conference in Lofa County have pledged to collectively intensify their efforts to address the major causes of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality as well as improve the health and wellbeing of the Lofa people. Conference participants were agreed in their declaration that No Home Delivery in Lofa County.

The over 150 participants’ recommitment was contained in a 22-count resolution adopted at the end of the conference held at the Lofa Community College Auditorium in Voinjama City on January 19 & 20, 2018. In their resolution the participants reminded all stakeholders, especially the County Administration, County Health Team (CHT) and Community leaders to ensure full implementation of the resolutions.

Reaffirming their dedication, the County administration including County Superintendent, Statutory Districts Superintendents, District Commissioners, and Paramount Chiefs), promised to demonstrate their support in leadership and resource mobilization; ensure coordination and collaboration among different sectors such as education, gender and other line ministries; and ensure the enforcement of fines and penalties for violators as agreed upon at the conference.

The Lofa CHT, health facilities, workers and partners recommitted themselves to the provision of quality health care services to mothers, newborn children and the society at all facilities. The County Health team and partners promised to introduce a motivational scheme for TTMs in kind or cash for best practices of referring the highest number of pregnant women to the health facility every quarter.

At the community level, conference participants recognized the critical roles of religious and traditional leaders as well as TTMs and challenged them to utilize their networks by serving as advocates to encourage pregnant women to attend ANC, deliver at health facility, and return for postnatal care, to enhance the uptake of maternal and newborn health services in Lofa.

Specifically, the resolution mandates that TTMs or TBAs be compensated by the husband or family of a pregnant woman in the amount of LRD $1,500.00 for caring and accompanying patient at Antenatal and in labor to the health facility.

In their 22-count resolution, the conference participants agreed to levy specific fines and penalties for all violators engaging in home delivery. These include: LRD $2, 500 for TTMs or TBAs who fail to take pregnant women to the facility for delivery; LRD $2, 500 for a pregnant woman who refuses to go to the facility for delivery.

The resolution also prescribed tough punishment of a ban from the practice and a court sentence for the death of a pregnant woman at the hands of a TTM or TBA who carries out delivery in the community after more than one offense.

The resolution encourages all commissioners and local authorities to ensure that community members participate in transporting pregnant women to facilities for delivery and in cases of emergency, use hammocks where an ambulance was not available. A fine of LRD $2,000 Will be imposed on any male community member who refuses, while any family member that will refuse to side brush road and assist with minor repair of bridges in their areas will be fined LRD $3,000.00.

The conference participants cautioned that refusal of any district superintendent, commissioners or local authority to adhere to these resolutions, such complain should be brought to the County Superintendent.

The 22-count resolution will be disseminated in the six local languages in the County (Lorma, Kpelleh, Mandingo, Kissi, Gbandi, and Mende) through radio. The CHT has been tasked to review progress of the resolution on a yearly basis, to evaluate the status and strengthen their commitment.

The conference was jointly organized by the Ministry of Health, Lofa County Health Team and health partners with support from IRC, PACs, JSI and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) Restoration of Health Services project implemented by Jhpiego & John snow Inc.

The two-day Maternal and Newborn Health Conference was held under the theme: No to Maternal and Newborn Deaths with slogan, Mama and Baby Must Live.

During the Lofa Maternal and Newborn Conference, MCSP RHS in collaboration with the Grand Bassa County Health Team recognized “best performing” clinics out of the 17 MCSP supported clinics in County. The recognition was in two categories; best performing clinic using composite Indicators (MNCH and IPC), and excellence in Infection.

The purpose of the recognition include the following; to appreciate the efforts of staff (team) who have worked exceptionally well at MCSP supported facilities in each county; to motivate other healthy facility staff and increase positive competition among health facilities, to further improve and promote the quality of health care services at the health facilities, and kick start MCSP transitioning of activities to the counties.

At a brief ceremony, six facilities were recognized for the composite indicator category and three for excellence in IPC category. Mbalotahun Clinic was recognized in both categories of recognition. In the composite indicators, Kpademai Clinic obtained the highest (84%), followed by Fassavolu (80%), Mbalotahun (79), Mendicorma (78) while Bondi, and Torbogizzizu Clinics each scored 75%. The three facilities recognized as excellence in IPC were Voinjama Free Pentecostal Clinic (95%), while both Faith Clinic and Mbalotahun Clinic had a tie score 89%.

Health officials confirm more cases of scabies

Authorities at the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health have announced an increase in the number of people now affected by strange skin disease/rashes or scabies (locally called “be serious”)

The authorities said as at January 5, 2017 to present additional 3,576 suspected cases have been reported.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, the health officials said as of mid-December 2017 to January 4, 2017, they received alert of the unknown skin disease from 5 counties beginning with Montserrado-82 followed by Rivercess- 175, Margibi Bong- 16 and Grand Bassa 576.

The officials said after active case search was launched, between January 5, 2017 to present, additional three thousand five hundred and seventy-six (3,576) suspected cases have been reported from three counties (Montserrado- 3150, Rivercess -315, Grand Bassa-111 with no death recorded.

According to the NPHIL release, on January 8 and 9 respectively, NPHIL’s National Reference Laboratory tested 42 cases. Seventeen (17) out of 42 cases were confirmed of Scabies disease through laboratory confirmation.

Meanwhile, it says 175 cases that were previously reported have been treated in Rivercess using Benzyl Benzoate lotion with support from World Health Organization (WHO) with a 100% cure rate. This mean, Scabies is preventable and treatable.

Actions taken so far by NPHIL in collaboration with MoH/CHTs includes but not limited to the following:

County Surveillance Officers (CSOs) in the five affected countieshave initiated active case search with Zonal Surveillance Officers (ZSOs), as well as Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) especially in Montserrado, Health promotion and awareness are ongoing, Radio talk shows, Response activities activated and Case management and case definition plan have been developed

Scabies is a parasitic infection caused by a Mite (Sarcoptes Scabia). It is transmitted by skin-to-skin contacts,contact of body part during sexual intercourse with affected person and contacts with affected linens, clothing’s, bath towels, beddings, furnishings etc. Children are mostly affected but it affects any age, sex, ethnic groups and socioeconomic levels. The mites can survive for only a few days off the human or animal body.

Scabies infestation occurs worldwide and is very common. Scabies has been around in Liberia from time to time, it is not new. “No need to Panic, Take preventive measures”. Scabies can affect anyone of any age (including a baby or child) or race. It has been estimated that about 300 million cases occur each year throughout the world.

The signs and symptoms include, intense itching especially at night, rashes especially around body folds (fingers, buttocks, under armpits, genital areas, etc.

Scabies can be prevented by avoiding contact with affected person, clothing and or linens of affected person, over-crowdedness and improved personal hygiene (wash clothing, linens with properly with boiling water and detergent soap).

For case management, cases with super infection (rash with sore and puss)s of skin rashes should be refer to the nearest health clinic and cases without super infection can be treated at home with supervision by the CHV, including household treatment with a lotion containing benzyl benzoate.
The National Public Health Institute recommends the followings: Scabies can be treated by Benzyl Benzoate, Disinfections of clothing need to be wash properly with boiling water and detergent soap.Proper hygiene and sanitary condition is highly recommended and always taking all preventive measures to keep safe.

“A Joint NPHIL and MoH team are on the field and will continue to keep surveillance and the general public is encouraged to report such disease to the nearest health facility or call our hotline 4455,” the statement said.

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

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