By Alex Yomah
The Government of Liberia over the weekend dedicated and commissioned an upgraded Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on the Capitol bypass in Monrovia.
The dedication of the EOC followed a new case of Polio virus or “children virus” that was recently detected in Monrovia from two (2) environmental sites.
The dedicated Polio Emergency Outbreak Center will serve as a central command and control center in Liberia to give strategic direction for public health operational decisions.
The upgraded and medically furnished structure was renovated by government’s development partners named “Volunteer Services Overseas, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.
During the dedicatory ceremony, the Chief Executive, President George Weah in a prepared message described EOC facility as another milestone achievement for the health sector.
“This is another important milestone for the health sector in Liberia, as it will enhance Government’s capacity and capability to control public health threats, including the polio virus,” President Weah stated.
He stressed the need for strong national leadership and the development of a well-coordinated crisis response capability.
“This is why Liberia has been relatively successful in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at an acceptable level so far, which is a testament of my Government’s resolve to protect the lives of all Liberians,” President Weah bragged.
“I am informed that Liberia is among the first African countries to defeat the wild-polio virus, with the last confirmed case in August 2010, and that we have continued to sustain wild-polio free status until the whole of the African region was certified virus-free in August 2020,” he said.
Adding; “I am also told that just three (3) months later, in December last year, a new case of POLIO VIRUS was detected in Monrovia from two (2) environmental sites. The Minister of Health has assured me that this unfortunate event will be dealt with swiftly”.
President Weah is being informed by health authority that there will be a nationwide polio vaccination campaign this month which among other things, is intended to mitigate and contain all future cases especially from neighboring countries.
“In this light, the establishment and dedication today of this Polio Emergency Outbreak Center is timely, as it will serve as the operational arm of the public health service to provide effective response to this new development,” the President noted.
The Liberian leader used the occasion to also express commendations to the Minister of Health and her hard-working team for taking such a meaningful initiative and leading the process.
He also explained that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over two (2) million lives across the globe, “makes us ever mindful of the importance of investing in our public health system, in order to strengthen its abilities to effectively address the needs of our People”.
Weah accentuated further that the experience and capacity to immunize all eligible children, adding, “I therefore call on all parents and health workers to ensure that the polio vaccine is administered to all of these children. Let us work together and cooperate fully with the health authorities to save our children from the scourge of polio”.
He acknowledged the significant role of international partners said to have endeavored, noting that Global partnership is cardinal for health security, indicating that “An outbreak in one country is an outbreak anywhere. Without collaboration and support from our International Partners, it would be impossible to succeed at stopping any virus such as Covid-19 or polio from overwhelming our health system.”
Speaking earlier, UN Resident Coordinator, Niel Scott thanked President Weah and the Health Minister for a job well done and assured the government of the United Nations’ unflinching support to this government.
Mr. Scott then instructed all UN representatives in Liberia to support the government’s projects particularly the health sector.
He said polio and the novel coronavirus are dangerous diseases, and efforts by the CDC-led government to effectively curtail it; is worth a leadership’s farsightedness in such drive.
The dedication ceremony brought together scores of partners including Health Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and other officials of government.