By Naneka Hoffman
Liberia’s 2nd Joint External Evaluation (JEE) for International Health Regulations (IHR) Core Capacities gets underway here on Monday.
The endeavor underscores Government of Liberia’s commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of its citizens.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) main conference hall in Congo Town, the Deputy Director General for Technical Services, Julius S.M. Gilayeneh, Sr., said the Joint External Evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of the country’s readiness to prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies in line with the 2005 International Health Regulations, noting that these regulations provide a global framework for managing cross-border spread of diseases and other health risks in order to ensure a coordinated national and international response.
He reveals that Liberia conducted its first JEE in 2016, resulting in an overall readiness score of 46%. This pivotal assessment led to the formulation of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) for 2018 -2023, designed to address identified gaps and recommendations.
Director Gilayeneh notes that said since the first JEE in 2016, Liberia has made substantial progress in strengthening its health systems and emergency response capabilities, evidenced by response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have diligently worked to address the recommendations from the initial evaluation, bolstering our ability to effectively manage health crises. Our dedicated healthcare workers and other professionals, stakeholders, and partners have been instrumental in achieving these milestones”, he says.
He says subsequently, Liberia initiated its midterm assessment in 2019, with an overall readiness score of 49%, and a 2021 NAPHS Implementation evaluation, yielding a readiness score of 52%, which will subsequently inform the country’s next national action plan for Health Security.
However, Gilayeneh also notes that the upcoming 2023 JEE will offer a comprehensive evaluation of Liberia’s current status by pinpointing evolving gaps to chart a course for targeted interventions to overall systems strengthening in protecting the opportunities, adding that these provide insights into the lives of people, animals, and the environment.
He says the second JEE represents a pivotal moment in Liberia’s ongoing journey to enhance health security, saying “Our goals are clear: to assess the progress they have made since the last evaluation, to identify areas for further improvement, and to collaborate closely to ensure that Liberia is fully equipped to handle health threats, whether they arise with our partners to fortify our response mechanisms. By doing so, they strive to domestically or have implications beyond our borders.”
He underscores that success of the Joint External Evaluations hinges on collaboration and partnership and the Ministry of Health extends gratitude to the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), World Bank, and other international partners and donors, and the broader global health community for their unwavering support. Editing by Jonathan Browne