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“Be good Ambassadors” – community based volunteers told

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Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Tolbert Nyenswah, has urged Community Volunteers to ensure that messages on the Ebola Virus Disease are properly disseminated to the people to allow them take the necessary precautions against EVD.

Speaking at the training of 329 Active Case Finders (ACF) under the UNDP/MOHSW Community Based Initiative (CBI) in Montserrado County held at the University of Liberia Auditorium in Monrovia, Minister Nyenswah, who heads the Ebola Emergency Incidence Management System (IMS) described the Montserrado project as very essential and critical to the fight against EVD in the country.

He said Ebola started from the communities and it must stop at the community level with the full involvement of community members. “This is not an office based work, it is a community based work; it means that you are to be in the field, in the various communities talking to the people….” Minister Nyenswah said.

The Assistant Health Minister said the fight against the virus has reached a stage that will determine whether the country will be declared free or more people will be infected or die from the virus if the necessary measures are not adhered to and observed.

Speaking earlier, the National Programme Officer of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says individuals engaged in active case finding and creating awareness about the dangers of the Ebola virus disease in various communities are to serve as good ambassadors in their places of assignments.

Mr. Eric Opoku said people volunteering under the UNDP supported Community Based Initiative (CBI) should take ownership of the process to ensure that the country is declared free from the deadly EVD by the relevant and requisite authorities in the soonest. Mr. Opoku said as was done in Nigeria and Senegal, Liberia too can be declared free from the EVD if every Liberian pays full attention and take the precautionary and preventive measures very seriously.

“Volunteers are role models, people look at you because you are doing something to help your communitiesnot because of what you are going to gain from it materially but the fact that you want to be seen as somebody different…” Mr. Opoku said. He told the volunteers that the manner in which they conduct themselves in their communities will determine the seriousness of community members to the Ebola awareness messages they carry to them daily.

Mr. Opoku said the UNDP was proud to be part of processes that are positively contributing to the eradication of the Ebola virus disease in Liberia. The Community Based Initiative (CBI) project is an initiative that seeks to complement the efforts of the government and other relevant Ebola response teams in Liberia. The CBI takes cognizance of the need for community involvement in the national Ebola response and to stop the spread of the virus.

Participants at the training included representatives from various women and youth groupings, the religious community, community and traditional leaders, the Liberia Boys Scott Association among others. They were drawn from across nine of the seventeen districts of Montserrado County (4, 5, 7, 16 and Caldwell (a major outbreak area in District 15) where the Community Based Initiative (CBI) project is currently being implemented.

Topics covered at the one day training include, social mobilization and health promotion; counseling and social support in the community; developing effective standard operating procedure for CBI; strategy to reach hard to reach population among others.

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