The United States Embassy near Monrovia announces an additional $1 million for USAID Liberia programs that will provide critical aid for all 15 Liberian counties — including support to the counties for response activities, identification and testing of suspect cases, and contact tracing.
However, it demands from the Government of Liberia and civil society organizations with which it is partnering to maintain the highest standards of accountability and transparency.
Making the disclosure in a message to the Government and people of Liberia, Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, Alyson Grunder, details the fund will support community engagement and risk communication using local partners who can most effectively deliver messages about prevention and testing.
“This funding will also support quarantine efforts. I note that over the past two decades, the United States has been the largest contributor to Liberia’s health sector, laying a strong foundation for Liberia’s COVID-19 response through more than $4 billion in total assistance, including more than $675 million in health assistance”, she notes.
Madam Grunder explains that the U.S. Mission health team is comprised of representatives of multiple U.S. agencies and departments, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and the Department of Defense.
“While these U.S. agencies are channeling funding to programs intended to strengthen Liberia’s health system and improve the health of all Liberians, I emphasize that our assistance efforts consist of more than money and supplies.”
She continues that U.S. health experts are providing technical assistance and collaboration on the ground — every day and every hour — that is foundational to America’s support, saying, “I am confident that the strong ties between our health professionals and institutions will serve Liberia’s COVID-19 response efforts, as they have underpinned the successful responses to Ebola and other life-threatening diseases in Liberia.”
Chargé d’AffairesGrunderemphasizes that fighting COVID-19 is the top priority right now at the U.S. Embassy, and they look forward to Liberian health officials and experts, including doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists and technicians, community health specialists, public health institutions and professionals, and hospital and clinic administrators as well as staff for their advice and cooperation.
“We count on the Government ministries and agencies as well as the civil society organizations with whom we work to maintain the highest standards of accountability and transparency. We want our resources to have maximum impact and to complement the efforts and initiatives of the government and of other donor partners and organization”, she underscores.
The U.S. Chargé d’Affaires also notes that as the world confronts COVID-19, Liberia has many best practices and institutional structures already established, such as community health workers and public health professionals throughout the country who are experienced and capable.
She explains that handwashing and other precautionary measures are well-known to Liberians, as is community engagement in public health education and awareness raising, including the pain of stigmatization because of infection, and the importance of encouraging, not deterring, testing.
“I urged everyone to always follow the safety strategies that will help protect you, your families, and your communities: wash your hands frequently and carefully, practice physical distancing of at least six feet as much as possible, wear a face mask if available and abide by the difficult but necessary lockdown measures that will stop the spread of COVID-19. Working collaboratively with its international partners, Liberia is well-positioned to fight COVID-19 so long as its government and people are unified and committed.”
She expresses appreciation for the profound people-to-people ties between Americans and Liberians, adding that through these wide-ranging partnerships, she and her staff at the U.S. Mission are working hard every day to support Liberia’s COVID-19 response efforts and to diminish as much as possible the impact of this disease on the country’s economic and political development going forward.
Chargé d’affaires Alyson Grunder is the acting head at the U.S. Embassy, pending appointment of a new U.S. Ambassador to Liberia by the United States Government following the departure of Ambassador Christine Elder in March.
The U.S. Embassy in Liberia early this month provided approximately $40 million for assistance to Liberia’s health sector, as part of it’s nearly $100 million annual assistance here. Story by Jonathan Browne