President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has met with the leaders and representatives of registered political parties on the current Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia.
The President invited the political party leaders to brief and update them on the ravaging Ebola outbreak in the country as well as to solicit their input in sustaining national efforts to contain the further spread of the disease in Liberia.
An Executive Mansion release says, the meeting, which was held in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium on Friday, September 5, brought together several registered political parties/coalitions, including the National Patriotic Party (NPP), Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD), National Democratic Coalition (NDC), All Liberia Coalition Party, Liberty Party, among others.
President Sirleaf welcomed the political party leaders and provided updates on the different plans and interventions made by the government since the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus disease. She underscored the critical importance of the involvement of all Liberians including leaders of political parties and their membership in efforts to contain the virus.
She introduced Health and Social Welfare Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale; Assistant Minister of Health for Preventive Services, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, who coordinates the Incidence Management System; and the Coordinator of the National Ebola Resource Center, Mr. Dorbor Jallah, who briefed the political party leaders about their work and pleaded with them to get fully involved in the fight against the further spread of the virus.
Minister Gwenigale urged the political leaders to join the prevention and health promotion aspect of the fight to ensure behavioral change among the population. “Once that is achieved,” Dr. Gwenigale indicated, “much more progress will be made in containing the further spread of the virus.” He appealed to the political parties and coalitions to play their part in defeating the virus.
Assistant Minister Nyenswah explained the different stages and programs under the Incidence Management System to include Prevention & Health Promotion, Treatment, Testing, Surveillance & Contact Tracing, Safe Burial, and Psychosocial Support.
He admitted challenges with the treatment component of the program due to limited treatment centers but informed the political leaders that five additional treatment centers will shortly be operational in addition to the John F. Kennedy and ELWA treatment centers.
The first of the five situated at Island Clinic near the St. Paul’s Bridge on Bushrod Island expected to be operational next week while the others will be concluded soon. Testing and removal of the dead for burial are also being improved, Minister Nyenswah assured. He called for unity among all Liberians in the fight against the deadly virus.
Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly and Coordinator of the National Ebola Resource Center Dorbor Jallah also briefed the leaders of political parties about their work which include resource mobilization, logistics and safe burial.
Making interventions, the leaders of political parties agreed generally that the Ebola crisis should not be politicized and recommended a bottom to top approach in containing the spread of the disease. They also recommended that the political parties be considered and treated like components of the local government structures in supporting the fight.
They also spoke on issues such as the State of Emergency, curfew, Senatorial mid-term elections, and the full participation of all sectors of the Liberian society in the fight. The political parties/coalitions further expressed their commitment to sincerely join the national fight to ensure the containment of the spread of the virus.
They called for proactive actions to mitigate the potential economic crisis that may evolve during the post-Ebola era and urged government to work to ensure the resumption of full services at health facilities across the country. The parties also called on government to pay particular attention to healthcare workers who are the front liners in the national fight.
In response to some of the concerns expressed by the political parties, President Sirleaf pointed out that government has already concluded a mitigation plan that will address the post-Ebola challenges and is holding discussions with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank, the U.S. Government, among others about the plan.
She also told the parties that the situation of healthcare workers across the country and not just those involved with the Ebola fight have been looked into and decisions reached on the provision of incentives beyond the regular salaries.
In a related development, President Sirleaf on Saturday visited the Township of West Point to access the current situation there, identify with victims of the recent conflict and to acquaint herself with the families of some of the students she has supported in school who are residents of West Point.
The families of the victims thanked President Sirleaf for keeping her promise to return and asked her to continuously stand by them in their difficult times. “I will continue to follow-up on the status of those who still require medical follow-up and attention to ensure that the recovery process in conclusive,” President Sirleaf assured.