As it remains uncertain on when COVID-19 will be controlled amidst the many unknowns, coupled with the high operational costs to sustain the response and limited national resources, the Liberia National Incident Management System on 27 August 2020, convened its second COVID-19 IMS Health Donors conference via zoom to present the LIBERIA COVID-19 Reduction Strategy. The five months (August –December) strategy is aimed at aligning and integrating Liberia’s ongoing response activities into routine health services to enhance efficiency and sustainability of the response activities in the country.
The key response pillars: Community Engagement and Risk Communication, Epidemiological Surveillance, Case Management and Psychosocial care, Laboratory Services and Infection Prevention and Control and WASH in health facilities will strengthen the on-going response of COVID-19 and access to universal Health Coverage. The response pillars will be supported by strong coordination, advocacy and partnership platform.
Since Liberia confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on 16th March 2020, there has been much attention to COVID 19 response at the detriment of routine health services.
Making the presentation during the conference, Mr. Stanford Wesseh, Assistant Minister for Statistics and Vital Registration stressed that elements of the reduction strategy will focus on community ownership , decentralization of treatment facilities, introduction of the home-based care of confirmed cases , scale-up diagnostic services in public & private health facilities, review and down-size the number of response teams and incentive packages, enforce public health safety measures and enhance case detection, through investigations, confirmation and contact tracing, as key actions that would be taken to increase efficiency and sustainability of the response .
Speaking during the conference, the Honorable Minister of Health lauded the health donors and all partners for their tireless efforts in ensuring that COVID-19 is controlled in the country. She said to sustain the COVID-19 Response and ensure delivery of quality routine health services, it was prudent to align and integrate the ongoing response into the delivery of routine health services.
For his part, the WHO Country Representative in Liberia, Dr. Peter Clement congratulated the National Incident Management System team for the level of leadership demonstrated in the fight against COVID-19 in the country. “This week is important because the WHO African region has witnessed the eradication of Wild Polio Virus (WPV) and observed the gradual decrease in the trajectory of new infections of COVID-19 cases” he said.
Noting the importance for the alignment and integration of the COVID-19 response with routine health service delivery, Dr. Clement, lauded the level of collaboration and partnership in support of government’s effort to stop COVID. Hence, it is critical to use the investment for COVID response to strengthen routine health services.
“Getting to zero might be difficult but, we have seen a declined in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The demonstrated solidarity will help us sustain the declined in COVID-19 positivity rate and defeat COVID-19” Dr. Clement said.
As part of the ongoing efforts, WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health in strengthening its diagnostic services for COVID-19 in country through the donation of reagents, supplies and other consumables to include primers, probes, extractors, swabs and viral transport media (VTM). In addition, WHO donated 21 oxygen concentrators to enable health workers effectively manage respiratory infectious diseases.
The conference is a follow up to the first comprehensive review of the response activities held in July of this year to review the ongoing response, identify multisectoral solutions and build broad partnerships to effectively respond and control the spread of COVID-19 as well as develop an Action Plan for the next six (6) months.
In attendance were over 60 participants including; senior government officials, members of the parliament, health donors, the United Nations in Liberia, International and Local Non-Governmental Organizations, the National Incident Management System, Senior Management Team of the Ministry of Health among others. All pledged to support the government in the implementation of the LIBERIA COVID- 19 Reduction Strategy.
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