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Liberia, Qatar dialogue on key sectors

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A high level Qatari Delegation in Liberia has met with Vice President Jewel Howard – Taylor and heads of some key institutions including Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs Ministry of Finance and National Aids Commission to ascertain what are the priority areas where the State of Qatar can make intervention.

The Delegation which was also due to meet with authorities at Education and Youth and Sports on Wednesday, 25 September, is headed to Monrovia by the Senior Strategic Planning Advisor of the Qatar Fund for Development Samer R. Frangieh.Receiving the Delegation at her office, Madam Taylor hailed the Qatari’s visit, saying it’s always good for a delegation to come out and see firsthand what the issues are, what the cooperation could be and how a mutually inclusive relationship can be developed and provide opportunities at both levels.

She says the Qatari Delegation’s meeting with the Ministry of Education, Health Care and Public Works are very critical aspect of what “we hope” the final arrangements will be.“We have a lot of other natural resources, but again if we don’t bring our people up to a level where they need to be in terms capacity building, then all the other things somehow slip away,” she remarks.

She thanks the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the work done that has brought the discussion to this level, and hopes that there will be a report on the Delegation’s impression and what the interactions have been so that they can be taken to the President’s office.Acting Liberian Foreign Minister Henry Fahnbulleh informs Vice President Taylor that the Ministry has been engaged with some of its partners, noting that the State of Qatar has had fruitful discussion with Liberia.

According to him, there is a political consultation pending and three agreements are supposed to be signed once President George Manneh Weah gives his approval.He announces plans by the two governments to move from strategic plans to real practical action, and further details that at the close of the visit, a plan of action will be conceptualized and presented to the President and the Vice President.

For his part, the Senior Strategic Planning Advisor of the Qatar Fund for Development Samer R. Frangieh says the purpose of the Delegation’s visit here is to open a dialogue with relevant stakeholders and understand from them firsthand what the needs that can be supported are.He reveals that the Qatari have in their strategies certain layers that range from education to health and economic empowerment, among others.

Speaking through an interpreter earlier, Qatar’s Ambassador to Liberia spoke of the friendly ties between his country and Liberia which have resulted to signing of lot of agreements and cooperation.Qatari Foreign Minister and Head of the Delegation to Liberia Hamad Mohamed Al-Rumaihi acknowledged the fruitful engagements between the two governments, and expressed hope that the engagement with their Liberian counterparts will be translated into reality.

Earlier, the Delegation met with the National Aids Commission (NAC) at the Ministry of Gender, where the Commission’s Chairperson Madam Theodosia Kolee made a powerpoint presentation which highlighted progress and challenges in the sector.Madam Kolee disclosed to the Qatari Delegation that there are 39,000 people living with HIV in Liberia.

Out of that number, she says there are 36,000 adults, with women dominating. She notes that there are 14,000 men and 3,000 children living with the virus.On a yearly basis, Madam Kolee reveals that there are 1,900 new HIV infections for the past ten years, naming Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties as the high burden areas.

Besides the three counties cited as high burden areas, Madam Kolee says Grand Kru, River Gee and Maryland are the next in line in terms of HIV prevalence.Meanwhile, the NAC chair says the Commission wants to reduce HIV by 75 percent, revealing that the Commission seeks to ensure that people tested positive of HIV get on treatment.

Given the need for resources to boost the NAC’s efforts, Madam Kolee says the sustainability plan is to construct a multi-purpose building which could be used to generate funds from conferences and programs.“So the next slide you will see is just how we’re looking at the multiple purpose building, if [Qatar] can come and help us construct this building that will be a plus,” she says.

In response, the Head of Qatar Fund for Development Samer R. Frangieh told Madam Kolee that the Delegation will report to the central government of Qatar on how the people of Liberia can get help in priority areas.Once Qatar approves, he says the very agencies that the Delegation has met with here will be contacted.By Winston W. Parley

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