Ministry of Health, partners observe World Malaria Day

(May 6, 2022, Paynesville City, Liberia)—In observance of World Malaria Day (WMD), held each year April 25, USAID Health Office Director, Madam Jessica Healey, said Liberia has made significant progress in the previous five years, eradicating malaria.

She spoke at the WMD in-door program held May 6, 2022, in Paynesville, at the City Hall, where she stressed, “malaria deaths have decreased by 67 percent, from 914 in 2007, to 300 in 2021, and [that] the number of confirmed cases has reduced by 15 percent, from over a million to around 900,000.”

Even though she said significant progress has been made in the last five-year, Madam Harley maintains “despite advances, malaria remains Liberia’s most serious public health problem and the leading cause of child fatalities.” 

The USAID Health Office Director said a number of people and caretakers with children do not seek care early when they fall sick, and do not consult the community health assistants, something she said is as a result of many people self-medicate with counterfeit and poor drugs, also failing to acquire mosquito nets during mass distribution programs.

C. Stanford Wesseh, Assistant Minister of Vital Statistics

For his part, C. Stanford Wesseh, Assistant Minister of Vital Statistics who represented the Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah recommended that people use mosquito nets to avoid coming down with the killer disease, malaria.

He said, “it has been demonstrated to be cost effective, sleeping under a mosquito net, and [seeking] early medical attention [which] saves money.”

Mr. Wesseh pledged the Ministry’s commitment in ensuring those in hard-to-reach areas have access to mosquito nets and anti-malaria commodities at all facilities, particularly public health facilities, causing patients to seek medical attention and adequate care. 

“As we strive to end malaria we know that in an under-resource country it is very difficult but there are effective interventions that we all can implement to ensure that we end malaria,” he said.

Also, Dr. Moses Jeuronlon, World Health Organization malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV Program Officer said despite a slowed rate of progress in reducing malaria incidences and deaths, as well as the delays by COVID-19, Liberia is much further ahead than it was in 2000. However, he said,” we need to reignite that momentum and build on the recent advances.”

Held under the theme: ‘Advance Equality, Build Resilience, End Malaria”, the WMD began with outdoor festivities on April 25, 2022, supported by USAID Social Behavior Change activity, Breakthrough ACTION Liberia, and partners supporting the Ministry of Health, including: UNICEF, World Health Organization, Last Mile Health, Roll Back Malaria and Plan International.

These initiatives were held as a result of ensuring malaria is eradicated. It began with a month of enormous social mobilization efforts and interagency sports tournament, as well as talk shows on four radio stations, including ELBC, Truth FM, OK FM and ECOWAS.  

The event on May 6, 2022, culminated with a parade from the Ministry of Health premises in Oldest Congo, to the Paynesville City Hall where an indoor program was marked by speeches.

During the parade, officials from the Ministry of Health and partners chanted “Zero Malaria starts with me”.

Malaria according to the World Health Organization, is the greatest cause of disease and deaths in Liberia, accounting for 46.9% of hospital outpatients in 2020. The condition is especially likely to affect children and pregnant women, prompting much attention around malaria interventions.

Signed: _____________________________

            Felecia Gbesioh

            Director of Communications

Ministry of Health pays tribute to former Minister of Health

(May 12, 2022, Congo Town, Liberia)—Health workers across the Country were seen pouring fond words on former Health Minister Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, who died at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center following a protracted period of illness.

The health workers said the late Dr. Gwenigale would forever be remembered for his incredible contribution to a health reform process that positioned the country’s system among the best in the Sub-region.

The health workers made the remarks Thursday, May 12, 2022, when an array of local and international partners as well as staff of the Ministry received the body of the late Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale at the Ministry’s compound in Congo Town.

At the emotionally charged ceremony, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Health, Hon. Norwu G. Howard, who paid tributes on behalf of the Ministry, prayed and asked God Almighty to embrace the fallen Minister with tender love and grant him eternal life saying, “In your hands, oh Lord, we humbly entrust our father Dr. G”.

Minister Howard said the late Dr. Gwenigale served like a father to her when her late father was killed during the Liberian civil war: “Dr. G, you will forever remain in our hearts for the care you showed after the death of our late father”.

However, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, who was affectionally called “Dr. G”, was a national icon, an experienced teacher, a wonderful mentor, recognized surgeon, a supportive health czar, a distinguished public servant, a pillar of integrity, a committed and dedicated public health physician.

Still, many health workers couldn’t hold back their emotions for his immense legacy as former Minister of Health and one of the longest serving cabinet ministers of the Republic of Liberia.

“There was no one better to lead the Ministry and rebuild the health sector following the Liberian civil crisis. He always worked with the best interest of the country in mind, and the health system he shaped continue to reflect the values he championed,” Dr. Peter Coleman, former Minister of Health asserted.

“Many have spoken about his championship but for us from the county health services, we are committing this little amount as contribution to his foundation”, Dr. Yatta Wapoe, County Health Officer of Montserrado County, committed on behalf of her colleagues who were in attendance.

“Man of integrity, honesty and sense of humor, I learned several things from you”, S. Tornorlah Varplah, heaped eulogy.

“I can record, Man of Integrity, when you asked me to come back home to server our country. I had no other option but to leave my WHO’s job and come back home to serve,” FARA Manager, Mrs. Louise Thomas Marpleh, remarked.

As Minister, Dr. G was a committed advocate for Liberians and indeed all Africans. He served as a member of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board, and during that tenure, he led the movement for the Director General to be an African. He was committed to equity, and fought to ensure that the institution’s leadership reflected the geographic and economic diversity of the constituent regions. His passion and strategic advocacy contributed to the improved representation we see today. He contributed to a number of transformative initiatives, most notably serving as a Board member for the Roll Back Malaria campaign.

At home, he was a visionary leader with ambitious goals for the country. He would often say that “if you do not know where you are going, anybody can carry you anywhere”. With this guiding philosophy, he led the development of the first post war National Health Policy and Plan, as well as the Basic Package of Health Services. This was the first time that Liberia had a comprehensive, documented roadmap for the provision of health services.

Giving all of these initiatives undertaken and his mentorship even his immediate Deputies wouldn’t hold back their tears: “Dr. G was a man of integrity; he made me to know that you don’t have to follow the political trend to keep your job. The reason while people build systems is to live after them.

“Dr. G helped to build the financial management system at this Ministry. He made me to know that people can set you up if you don’t have a good system setup. He gave people the opportunity and chance to work freely; he was always instrumental to training health workers and other staff.

“I want this to be a lesson to all here, and I think it can carry his vision, he helped to build the financial—which is a system that we all have confident in, and that along made me to be bold; because when I was leading as the Minister here, I was not afraid to tell people to come and audit us.

“People need to know this at all times that audit is a system strengthening activity because fraud is a bad product, and so when an audit is done, the auditors give you recommendations to help you strengthen the system; when there is fraud you, take appropriate actions. And that’s how people fight corruption, and this was what Dr. G stood for throughout his life”, Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, former Minister of Health expressed.  

 “Dr. G Fought a good fight, and he played his part and his departure has come. He was not afraid to help built Liberia’s health system, to a point that he ensured the right staff do the right job.

“I am told that he was a team player and so whenever he’s invited to the capital building to speak on the Ministry of Health’s matter, he carred along with his three principle deputy ministers; so that when questions are asked on administration you are responsible, when questions are asked on policy and planning the next person in line will be able to answer—he did not behave like he knew all.

“Dr. G has fought a good fight, and he has finished his battle. What does it mean to fight a goof fight? The word fight means to content in battle thereby putting forth a determine efforts.

“It is important to note that every one of us here are fighting some battles, we are fighting battle to succeed, make progress in life we are fighting a battle to get ahead and it is unfortunate however, that the kind of battle we are fighting is being divided into two, a “bad fight and a good fight” Paul said

“There are lot of us that are fighting, a bad fight is the one that you fight that leads to someone’s’ death,Rev. Ernest Wesseh Davis Remarks said while delivering a sermon. 

Following the grief-laden ceremony at the Ministry, where throngs of local and international partners, including Last Mile Health (LMH), Partners In Health (PIH), DFID, USAID, UN Bodies, World Bank (WB) European Union (EU) US CDC and Irish Aid; Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS), Pharmacy Board, Liberia Board of Nursing and Midwifery (LBNM) & Liberian Medical Dental Council (LMDC) congregated, the body of the fallen Minister was taken to the St Peter Lutheran Church, 13th Sinkor, Monrovia, for celebration of his life service.

Signed: _________________________________

           Felecia Gbesioh

           Director of Communications

MOH, WHO Conclude Emergency Health Care System Meeting In Monrovia

(May 5, 2022, 14st Sinkor, Monrovia, Liberia)—a team of Health experts from the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Washington DC, and the African Federation for Emergency Medicine (AFEM) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) has concluded a two-day stakeholders meeting in Monrovia.

The meeting concluded by developing a strategic plan for strengthening the emergency and critical care systems in Liberia. It also looked at implementation plan for the highest priority actions, proposed training in WHO’s Basic Emergency Care course, and explored the possible launch of GETI in Liberia, from May to September of this year.

The assessment is being developed by the WHO and its partners to help low middle income country to have a complete situation analysis of their emergency health care system and how to improve upon it.

This came into being when Liberia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, thought it wise to engage WHO headquarters in Washington DC and asked for assistance.

“With the fast moving pace of modernization and development, Liberia will need a system in place to address the disadvantages that could follow. The construction and expansion of new roads from Monrovia to Nimba, the ongoing RIA highway, the rise in commercial motorcycles and many more, we need adequate ambulances and emergency departments manned by skilled practitioners for proper pre-hospital and in-hospital care.

“on behalf of the President and as Minister of Health do assure you and team Liberia’s fullest corporation to strengthening basic emergency care services throughout the length and breadth of Liberia”, Dr. Jallah expressed during the opening.

Prior to the two days meeting, the team along with the Ministry of Health conducted an assignment tour of major health facilities in Montserrado and Bong Counties.

However, the tour of these health facilities was aimed at strengthening and understanding how the available system works and what can be done to better improve it.

The tour kickoff on May 2, 2022 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC) in Monrovia with a brief PowerPoint presentation of what the team intend to do through the Ministry of Health (MOH) at various referrer hospitals.

This assignment dugout the basis and analysis of where Liberia stands as a country in terms of its emergency health care services and as well provide a strategic planning process and to find a way forward.

At the JFK Medical Center, the team met with doctors from their different departments including medical students who witnessed the presentation from WHO.

Dr. Jerry Yekeh Browne, Chief Executive Officer JFKMC in a brief conversation with journalists following the tour at the facility

The speaking during the tour at the JFKMC ground round, Dr. Jerry Yekeh Browne lauded the team for their visit and see it as a great boost to the health sector of Liberia. “They are here to do an assessment and at the end of the day, they will train health workers at referral hospitals, so that they can be more proactive in providing emergency health care services to patients,” said Dr. Browne.  

According to him, the assignment also looked at what various health centers have in place in terms of emergency care services and then critique it as well as make some recommendations to the Ministry for better improvement of the system. Dr. Browne said the team also want to ensure that the available emergency tools are up to standard.

Dr. Browne: “I hope the training of our health care workers will improve on their ability as they build on the existing knowledge and skills. We also hope to have our ambulances well equipped to appropriately transport patients from the various communities to the referral hospital.”  

Meanwhile, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, Chief Executive Officer of Phebe Hospital in Bong County, appreciated the team for coming to Liberia. “We think your coming here today is timely because we had been wishing for this so long.”

He outlined the lack of ambulances to response promptly to emergency cases something he said has resulted to the death of many.  He also named the lack of electricity to supply proper pipe boil water to important areas.

“We don’t have good system put in place here, to even transport patients from accident scene to the referrer hospital is a challenge as a results most of them die. If you look at the death almost 25% of death that occurs comes from our ER situation,” Dr. Sibley disclosed.

However, the two-day ongoing stakeholder meeting brought together health workers from various health facilities in Monrovia.

Finally, Ass. Minister George Jacobs declaring the gathering close, thanked the team from WHO for always remembering Liberia. On behalf of the Minister of Health, he committed the Ministry’s support in working with every document adopted during the gathering.

Signed: _________________________________

           Felecia Gbesioh

           Director of Communications

American Cancer Society Visits Dr. Jallah

(May 2, 2022, Congo Town, Liberia)—A team of medical practitioners from the American Cancer Society based in the United States of America has paid a courtesy to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah. The team headed by its Vice President for Global Cancer Treatment, Dr. Meg O’Brien, briefed the Minister on the Society’s desire to work with the Ministry of Health to train health workers in morphine.

 The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Our Global Headquarters are located in Atlanta, Georgia, and we have regional and local offices throughout the country to ensure we have presence in every community.

Dr. Jallah expressed delight over the society’s desire to reach out to the Ministry, and at the same commits the Ministry’s willingness to work with the American organization for the common good of both countries.  

Signed: _______________________________________

              Felecia Gbesioh

              Director of Communications, MOH/RL