MONROVIA, Feb. 7 (LINA) – The Old Maternity Center building on Capitol Bypass, recently occupied by the Gender Ministry, has now been refurbished for use as the Polio Emergency Operations Center (EOC) thanks to the Ministry of Health and several international partners helping to strengthen the health system.
At its dedication over the weekend, President George Weah said the establishment of the Center was timely as it will serve as the operational arm of public health service to provide effective response to the new polio outbreak in the country last December.
The “well-equipped” building is the country’s first-ever “war room” specifically against Polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, health officials say.
“This EOC is an important infrastructure that will strengthen Liberia’s capacity for a well-coordinated response to the threat of circulating vaccine-derived polio virus as well as other vaccines that will be brought into the country – at least we’ll have a place that we can monitor all of them,” said Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah.
Since Liberia was declared free of Polio by the World Health Organization in August 2010—far ahead of many other African countries—it was two months ago that Ministry of Health said it found new strains of the virus from two environmental sites in Montserrado County – which has now occasioned the move by health authorities to roll out a fresh vaccination scheme for children in this month.
President Weah has, therefore, urged all parents to cooperate with the staff of the Ministry of Health in the upcoming Polio immunization exercise throughout the country.
“Let us work together fully with the health authorities to save our children from the scourge of Polio. Our country has the capacity to immunize all eligible children. “Global partnership is cardinal for health security,” said President Weah.
He added: because “an outbreak in one country is an outbreak anywhere …without collaboration and support from our international partners, it’d be impossible to succeed at stopping any virus such as COVID-19 or Polio from overwhelming our health system. That’s why we’re grateful for the strong partnership we enjoy with all our key development partners.”
Ending his remarks, the Liberian leader lauded the support of the Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation, and equally recognized the technical and otherwise support of UNICEF, WHO, GAVI, Rotary International, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), and public-private group Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), among several others.
According to the Ministry of Health, current global Polio statistics show 71 cases in 2018; 378 cases in 2019; and on October 7, 2020, 441 cases.