The Chairman of the Committee on Health and Gender Affairs at the Liberian Senate has alarmed that the hasty reopening of schools across the country puts the lives of Liberian children at serious risk.
Dr. Peter Coleman of Grand Kru County said the country was still not safe for children to start schools. Senator Coleman accused the Liberian Government failing to put in place the rightful measures as required by the World Health Organization or WHO in reopening schools.
Senator Coleman, who won on the ticket of the National Patriotic Party or NPP during the 2011 Presidential and Legislative Elections, claimed that the government failed to live up the discussions held with Lawmakers, noting that the authorities at Education and Health Ministries were very defiant, exhibiting ‘done-care attitudes’ toward the plight of Liberian children.
Speaking in plenary on Capitol Hill on Tuesday in Monrovia, Dr. Coleman noted that authorities of the House of Representatives, the Liberian Senate, as well as the Health and Education Ministries met and agreed to reopen all schools in March of this year at which time international partners and the Health Ministry would have completed the distribution of Ebola prevention materials, but to the dismay of attendees at the meeting, authorities of the Education Ministry chose to hastily reopen schools.
According to the former Health Minister of Liberia, even though some schools are yet to install hand pumps, and improved toilet and bathroom faciitlities as requested by the WHO, the government chose to reopen on February 16, 2015.
“Those Ebola preventive materials that should been distributed with schools are still in government’s warehouses; making the kids to start school now is just exposing them to the Ebola virus. Beware that Ebola is still here, and there are serious new cases being reported. This Health Ministry is in the know,” he said. He indicated that he or Senate was not against the reopening of schools, but the right measures should be followed so that there wouldn’t be reoccurrence of the Ebola outbreak.
Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Adolphonso Gaye also accused the Executive, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of undermining the integrity of the Liberian Legislature, recommending that there must be some drastic actions taken against the Ministers of Health and Education.
Meanwhile, the Senate has instructed its Statutory Committee on Health to actively engage officials of the Health and Education Ministries on the way forward for the students and the country.
However, the committee is expected to report to plenary within one week with findings and recommendations.
On February 16, 2015, Students in Liberia returned to their classrooms after closure for six month by the government during the Ebola epidemic that left thousands dead.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor