Liberia

WHO Liberia situation report No. 6, period 23 Jul - 5 Aug 2005

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A. HIGHLIGHTS OF NATIONAL POLITICAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTS
The President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh called for a constitutional adjustment of the leadership structure of the Executive Branch of Government to create the position of Prime Minister to manage the country. "We, therefore, need one minister who will be paramount, a professional manager, who will run the government," he declared. He made this suggestion when he served as this year's national orator on the occasion of Liberia's 158th Independence Day celebrations.

The Heads of State of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone signed a communiqué on Thursday, 28 July calling for a review of the terms of the temporary stay granted to Charles Taylor in Nigeria. The communiqué followed a special summit of Heads of State and Government of the Mano River Union (MRU) grouping Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. During the Summit in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the MRU leaders agreed that some of the alleged activities of Charles Taylor in Nigeria may be in breach of the terms of his stay in Nigeria.

There has been a recent surge in the number of Liberian refugees returning home, as the security situation deteriorates in Cote d'Ivoire. UNHCR has stated that some 5,100 refugees had returned from Cote d'Ivoire to Maryland County in Southeastern Region of Liberia and Nimba County in the North-Central Region of Liberia.

The Ministry of Justice has presented a Draft Bill on Rape and Sexual Violence to the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Gyude Bryant. In making the presentation, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Liberia, Cllr. Kabineh Ja'neh, recalled that the government was facing a critical human rights issue.

B. IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAMMES OF TECHNICAL COOPERATION

1. Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR)

In an effort to scale up implementation of IDSR activities in Liberia, WHO has supported the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH&SW) to conduct district level IDSR training in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties. Twenty (20) district surveillance officers and ninety-three (93) officers-in-charge of health facilities were trained. The training was intended to provide the participants with relevant knowledge and skills for identifying, reporting and investigation of notifiable diseases in the districts. As a result of the training, the number of health facilities submitting surveillance reports has increased.

2. Debriefing of County Health Teams on the Results of EPI (Expanded Programme on Immunization) Comprehensive Review

A national team comprising the National EPI Manager, the Dean of A.M. Dogliotti Medical College, EPI Officer/UNICEF, and EPI Surveillance Officer/WHO have conducted debriefing meetings with county health teams and health partners at regional levels. Currently, three of the four regional meetings have been held, and ten counties have participated. Participants in these meetings included county health officers, county EPI supervisors, and county surveillance officers. The topics for discussion included:

- Nationwide 30-Cluster EPI Coverage Survey

- Cold Chain Assessment and Inventory

- EPI Programme Management Review and Identification of System-Wide Barriers to Immunization

- EPI Review Meeting for First Half of 2005

- Comprehensive Active Disease Surveillance Review.

The Regional Offices of WHO and UNICEF provided technical support for the Comprehensive EPI Review, and the WHO Regional Office for Africa provided technical support for the Comprehensive Active Surveillance Review.

3. Malaria Control Programme

WHO has technically supported the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in writing a protocol for assessment of the comparative efficacy of Artesunate + Amodiaquine and Artemether + Lumefantrine. The goal of the study is to set up a surveillance system for regular monitoring of the efficacy of antimalarials in Liberia, and provide the country with data for an evidence-based treatment policy review in the future. WHO will provide the needed drugs and medical supplies.

4. Epidemic Management Committee Meeting

The Epidemic Management Committee meeting was held on 05 August 2005 in the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare to plan and strategize for immediate verification, investigation and response to the rumours of reported outbreak of acute watery diarrhea in Tarsue District, Sinoe County. It is reported that over 50 persons have been hospitalized, and at least 20 deaths have occurred. The County Health Team has initiated some response interventions; but their capacity is limited. WHO and MOH&SW technical programme officers are proceeding to Sinoe to reinforce the interventions.