Cross – border meeting on Epidemic – prone diseases, including malaria and Tropical Neglected Diseases
Golden Gate, Paynesville City, Monrovia
December 12 – 14, 2016
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, all protocols observed.
Special recognition to the Health Minister, Hon. Bernice Dahn and her hard working Deputy, Hon. Tobert Nyensuah. It is an honor to form part of the official opening of this all important Cross – Border Meeting that has brought together regional epidemic responders and decision makers.
Let me begin by expressing our sincere appreciation to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health, national and regional actors including my organization, IOM, who have worked tirelessly to see this meeting come to fruition.
This meeting is an evidence that Liberia and other countries in the region (especially the sub – region – MRU countries) are still recovering from the Outbreak of the Ebola Virus and other priority diseases that threaten and breakdown our public health systems. Ebola was an enemy that fought this nation and claimed the lives of many Liberians including health workers, something we feel very sad to talk about. Meanwhile, we must appreciate the efforts of the government and partners who worked collaboratively to have seen Liberia announced Ebola free in the region more than once. It wasn’t just easy to have happened.
In real life today, we can mention that Liberia is still recovering from the 14 years of civil unrest that claimed the lives of many Liberians, rendered a good percentage displaced and vulnerable, shattered its infrastructures and systems established at the time. The attainment of more than a decade of peace in Liberia is now seemingly irreversible; the efforts of government through the leadership of the president of Liberia, Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, must be appreciated and supported by all, including institutions and individuals who value peace and co-existence.
IOM Liberia has supported the government in different areas of migration management including:
- It’s contribution to the DDRR processes (Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation and Reintegration)
- Livelihood support including marketable skills transfer to vulnerable groups
- Registration and return assistance to Third Country Nationals and Returning Liberian Migrants during the elections violence in Cote d’Ivoire in late 2010
- Return assistance to Stranded Liberian Migrants in the sub – region (Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea & Sierra Leone)
- Development of the draft national migration policy and the review of the Aliens and Nationality law
- Support to Victims of Trafficking
Although it’s considered a new marriage but our partnership with the Ministry of Health has been remarkable. We worked in establishing and managing three Ebola Treatment Units and renovated 29 health care facilities in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Grand Bassa Counties. The challenges were enormous but with the collaborative efforts of MOH and partners, we came out victorious in containing the virus. I say bravo to all of us who tirelessly contributed to this. I was serving as the Chief of Mission in Guinea at the time and made regular visits to the borders. I saw things there that were no different from those happening in Liberia.
Our just ended/concluded Health Border and Migration Management Project (HBMM) has helped to strengthen border and Community Event – Based Surveillance systems. The evaluation results of this project will advance key recommendations for implementation by our government counterparts. This project is complemented by the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) project supported by IRC led EPR Consortium. Series of simulations and emergency planning are carried out to ensure that national capacities are built to respond to emergencies in real time.
I must say that this meeting is timely as we all endeavor to see “One Health Approach” in the region. I say thanks to WHO and WAHO for supporting this process as we all hope to have successful deliberations during the meeting. And finally, I say thanks to our donor, USAID-OFDA, for funding these activities.