Polio Resurfaces in Liberia
Updated: August 12, 2009 – 9:44am
News Section:Community News

5 Counties Fall Prey, Others Threatened

[photo] Boy with polio (Courtesy WHO) 

By: Stephen Binda
MONROVIA – Liberia’s health authorities have announced that the dangerous disease, polio, has resurfaced in the country.

Five of the country’s 15 counties have already been affected according to the Ministry of Health, a total of eight cases having been confirmed in Bomi, Montserrado, Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh.

On Tuesday, World Health Organization (WHO) representatives accompanied Liberian Ministry of Health officials to the Capitol Building in Monrovia, where they met with members of the National Legislature to sound the alarm on the re-emergence of the disease in the country.

Addressing the plenary of the Liberian Senate Tuesday, Acting Program Manager for the Expended Program on Immunization at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Thomas Nagbe, said the re-emergence of the virus in Liberia was a worrisome situation for the country.

The health authorities, who sought funding in the amount of US$380,000 to combat the disease, told the legislators that the situation had an emergency nature that warranted swift action.

They made it emphatically clear that if the situation was not addressed with care and a sense of urgency, the polio virus would, in a short span of time, spread to other parts of the country.

They attributed the re-emergence of the virus to many factors among which was the inflow of people from foreign countries, particularly from neighboring states where the disease remains active.

Liberia is bordered to the North by the Republic of Guinea, to the East by Ivory Coast, to the West by Sierra Leone and on the South by the Atlantic Ocean.

The Liberian health authorities named the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ivory Coast and the Republic of Guinea as countries in the West African sub-region where they said the prevailing rate of the disease remained high.

“People leaving and coming into Liberia, using our borders by way of either Ivory Coast or Guinea, are some of the root causes of the recurrence of the virus in Liberia,” Nagbe told the Senate Tuesday.

He said current data clearly showed that there were eight confirmed cases of the virus in Liberia with people in five counties being affected.

Nagbe listed Bomi, Montserrado, Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh as counties currently ‘saturated’ with the epidemic.

Bomi, Montsorrado and Grand Gedeh have recorded one case each, Maryland County two, and River Gee County is handling three cases, he informed the Senate.

He divulged that plans had been finalized by the MOH to launch a nationwide polio eradication campaign which would be held from August 14 through August 18.

During the campaign, Nagbe explained, children under the age of five years would be vaccinated free of charge so as to arrest the rapid spread of the disease in the country.

According to the health authorities, the Ivory Coast had registered at least 21 confirmed cases of polio, Guinea 15, while Nigeria had reported 360 cases.

It may be recalled that POLIOMYELITIS (infantile paralysis) has been eradicated from nearly every country in the world since the approval for use of the Salk (1955) and Sabin (1962) vaccines. The WHO said no more than 1,500 cases of acute poliomyelitis had been reported in 2001.

The number of countries in which polio is endemic dropped from 20 in 2001 to 10 at the beginning of 2002. The WHO target date for declaring the world polio-free was 2005.

A few years ago, Liberia was certificated after the disease, which had caused disabilities predominantly in children, was declared eradicated from the country’s population of more than three million.

The organization estimates that there are 20 million people worldwide with some degree of disability caused by poliomyelitis. A 1996 National Center for Health Statistics survey reported a preliminary estimate of one million survivors in the United States. About 450,000 of them reported paralysis resulting in some form of impairment.

For years most of these polio survivors lived active lives, their memory of polio long forgotten, their health status stable. By the late ’70s, polio survivors were noting new problems of fatigue, pain, and additional weakness.

By the mid 80s, health professionals and policy makers recognized these new problems as being real and not ‘only in the patients’ minds.’ Studies on this phenomenon called ‘post-polio syndrome’ have been and are still being conducted in research institutions and medical centers.

Survivors of poliomyelitis may experience symptoms that include unaccustomed fatigue – either rapid muscle tiring or feeling of total body exhaustion and new weakness in muscles. Both those originally affected and those seemingly unaffected, have pain in muscles and/or joints, sleeping problems, breathing difficulties, swallowing problems, decreased ability to tolerate cold temperatures, decline in ability to conduct customary daily activities such as walking, bathing, etc. These general symptoms are experienced in varying degrees, and their progression can be insidious.

0Copyright Liberian Observer – All Rights Reserved. This article cannot be re-published without the expressed, written consent of the Liberian Observer. Please contact us for more information or to request publishing permission.

Copyright 2009 | Liberian Observer Online | www.LiberianObserver.com

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We do not have explicit permission to use this story, but claim fair use.  All credit goes to the good work of the Liberian Observer and Stephen Binda.

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Hayes-Mission-SirleafLiberian president dedicates rural elementary school

Posted August 9, 2009 (MONROVIA, August 09, 2009):

A newly renovated elementary school building owned and operated by Hayes Mission in Gbavon Clan, in Bomi County, has been dedicated. Performing the dedicator ceremony Saturday, August 8, in Dewoin District, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf lauded Mr. Paul Sethi, proprietor of Sethi Brothers Construction Company, for offering to help reconstruct the school. The gesture, the President noted, is one of a “good corporate citizen worthy of emulation.” A fully renovated Hayes Mission, the Liberian leader said represents the future.

During the occasion, also attended by House Speaker Alex Tyler and officials of the Ministry of Education, the President challenged the residents to make the institution self-sustainable.

The co-founder of Hayes Mission, Rev. Lois Hayes, commended the Liberian leader for her efforts to refurbish the school. He recounted the efforts of the school’s founder, the late Rev. McCarthy Hayes along with the late Mrs. Martha Johnson, mother of the Liberian leader, for their visionary roles leading to the establishment of the school.

The Hayes Mission Elementary School, established prior to Liberia’s civil conflict, was severely affected during the crisis. With oversight responsibility from its County and District Education Officers, the Ministry of Education is also providing support to the institution through the provision of school materials.

In another development, the Liberian President has been gowned as ‘Mother of the Nation’ by the Governors Council of Liberia.

Speaking at the an elaborate ceremony held in Po River, Montserrado County, the Council’s Chairman Chief Blama Gaye, cited good governance, security sector reform, rehabilitation of national infrastructure and respect for human rights, as several areas in which the Liberian leader has performed with credit since her ascendancy to the Presidency in January 2006.

The Council also cited the President’s regular interaction with ordinary Liberians, making specific reference to her regular radio program, ‘Talk with the President,’ as a concrete demonstration of her openness with the ordinary citizen.

In response, the Liberian thanked the residents for the honor. An Executive Mansion release says the President welcomed the construction of a bridge in the area by the Ministry of Public Works. She noted that with the construction of the bridge residents of Bomi County have for the first time been given an alternative route as they travel on the Clay to Suehn Mecca road. The President lauded the citizens for engaging in farming activities. She assured the Council of her continued efforts at nation-building, promising quarterly meetings with them to discuss Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy as well as other national issues facing the country.

SOURCE: Executive mansion – Monrovia

—In-the-News—

50-million dollar contract signed in Health sector     
Written by Robert J. Clarke, Jr.    
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 
STAR RADIO

USAID and government through the Health Ministry have signed over 50 million US Dollars contracts to cater to the country’s healthcare delivery system.

USAID is the United States Agency for International Development.

The contracts are under USAID’s Rebuilding   Basic Health Services program.

USAID Mission Director Pamela White who signed for her agency said the contract would initially cover a five-year period.

Madam White told Star Radio the five year program would seek to improve operations and ensure delivery of the ministry’s basic package for health.

It would be implemented in some one hundred fourteen clinics in seven counties.

The counties include Bomi, Bong, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Montserrado, Nimba, and River Gee.

The USAID Boss said the initiative represents a critical new step in the reconstruction of the health system of Liberia that would benefit over one million people.

Deputy Health Minister Bernice Dahn who signed for government thanked USAID for the initiative.

A very good start, now let’s get to work UpCountry!

Liberia: Ellen Impressed With Chinese-Built Schools
The Informer (Monrovia)
27 May 2009
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dedicated three high schools constructed by the Chinese government in Bomi and Montserrado counties, describing them as a fulfilled promise.

Speaking Monday at the dedicatory ceremonies, President Johnson Sirleaf said Government will continue to strive to provide affordable and quality education that is accessible to all citizens throughout the country.

The Liberian leader described the dedication of the schools as a fulfillment of some of the promises made to the Liberian people – that education will reach, particularly, those who have been neglected.

In an apparent reference to the dedication of a newly constructed high school in Suehn Meca district, the President said too often development in the area did not benefit the people of Suehn Meca district due to its inaccessibility. “I am delighted that this time, the people of this district, are part of the process,” she emphasized.

The President said the provision of quality education remains at the center of Government’s national development objective, and will continue to ensure that resources are provided to meet that objective.

The Liberian leader praised the partnership between Liberian and its development partners, particularly China and the United States, for their continuous support toward Government’s development agenda. “They have responded to our agenda needs…the schools they are building is responding to what we have planned,” the President asserted.

The schools, President Sirleaf said, were built in response by China, to Government’s agenda needs, in line with Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), which remains at the center of the development agenda of the country.

Liberia’s PRS articulates the Government’s overall vision and major strategies for moving toward rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth and development during the period 2008-2011.
The PRS will be implemented between April 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011 (the end of the 2010/2011 fiscal year). This period is of critical importance as Liberia shifts from post-conflict stabilization to laying the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth, poverty reduction, and progressing toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the PRS paper states.

The donor-dependent US$1.6bn program is crafted with four major pillars including enhancing peace and national security, governance and the rule of law, economic revitalization and rehabilitation of infrastructures and delivery of basic social services.

Revitalizing and improving the educational system are central under the PRS.

The President acknowledged that schools have not yet been built in many places around the country, but noted that progress has been made in the construction of schools in several parts throughout the country. “We will continue on that path until we reach all the Liberian children,” the President noted.

The Liberian Chief Executive also spoke of other development projects throughout the country, including the construction of the Bopolu-Belle Yella Road, urging citizens and officials of counties benefitting from the projects to maintain and protect them to enable Government attract more assistance to their communities.

“The facilities now belong to us; it is up to us to keep them; to maintain them properly; to protect them and used them properly for the good of the children,’ the Liberian leader admonished a cheering crowd during the dedicatory ceremonies.

Chinese Ambassador, Zhou Yaxiao, whose country aided the construction of the schools, said the construction was in fulfillment of his Government’s promised during the China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing, at which time China pledged to build 0ne-hundred schools in Africa.

“If that in our figure is equally distributed, then Liberian would get two instead of three, but with the extra effort made by Madam President and myself and the Chinese embassy here, Liberia got three,” Ambassador Zhou recalled.

Ambassador Zhou praised President Johnson Sirleaf’s insistence to have one of the schools built in rural Liberia despite the embassies reluctance to do so, given the cost and difficulties involved in transporting construction materials away from Monrovia.

The Chinese ambassador described education as a key to sustainable development, pledging his Government’s continuous support to the educational sector of Government’s national development.

Areas benefitting from the newly constructed schools are Suehn-Meca district, in Bomi County, the New Georgia Community and the Kendeja/Rehab Community in Montserrado County.

Meanwhile, the newly constructed New Georgia High School has been named in honor of the founding father of the Liberia Unification Party, the late William Gabriel Kpolleh.

Announcing the decision, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the naming of the school in the late Kpolleh’s memory was intended to honor his memory for his sacrifices and dedication toward the educational development of the country.

The late William Gabriel Kpolleh was a school teacher, who taught in Bong and Montserrado Counties, before entering politics in 1985, to contest general and Presidential elections. He was reportedly killed when the civil crisis erupted in Liberia in 1989.

President Johnson Sirleaf is reported to have recommended that the school be named in the late Kpolleh’s honor, resisting an offer to have it named in her honor.

Accepting the honor, Madam Rosetta Kpolleh, who, along with other family members travelled to Monrovia for the event, thanked the President for the recognition bestowed on her late father, and extended heartfelt appreciation on behalf of the Kpolleh family for the noble gesture.

Under the PRS program the government hopes to increase access to quality education by building more schools across the country, equipping them with modern libraries, better sanitary conditions and well as safe drinking water.

Under one of the strategic objectives in the implementation matrix, the PRS seeks to expand access to quality, safe, and hygienic schools. It promises to build 240 primary classrooms (40 schools) and 54 secondary classrooms (4 schools); repair 200 primary class rooms (33 schools) and 72 secondary classrooms (6 schools); construct 14,150 chairs and 82 well water wells with hand pumps.

However most of these are yet to be done and the need for them are dire, but students of the dedicated schools will now learn in a very conducive environment, not worrying about rain or sun like most of their colleagues in other government schools across the country.

Copyright © 2009 The Informer.

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For failure to pay teachers at Guthrie school system, students warn of demonstration

Written by Matthias Daffah Wednesday,

11 March 2009

STAR RADIO

Students at the Guthrie School System in Bomi County have warned that their patience is running out over unpaid salaries to teachers.

Student leader Edward Kiadii said many of their teachers were hungry and unable to attend classes due to the management’s failure to settle arrears.

Edward Kiadii told Star Radio the school system has completely run out instructional materials including chalk and writing paper.

The Guthrie student leader appealed for quick intervention or the entire Guthrie school system would be compelled to stage a peaceful demonstration.

When contacted the Vice Principal of the Guthrie School System Tamba Daoda confirmed the students’ claims and added that the problem was serious.

He said the school administration was getting increasingly embarrassed over the appalling condition the Guthrie school system was operating under.

Mr. Daoda warned that any strike action by aggrieved students at the plantation could paralyze the already struggling school system.

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China Boosts Liberian Radio
12.04.2008
Radio World, VA

The Liberian government announced last month that the government of China has completed a renovation and expansion of Liberia Broadcasting System’s facilities.

Under the China–LBS Radio Project, the Chinese government has provided a new FM transmitter to boost the reach of LBS throughout the country. A second transmitter was also provided to relay English-language programming from China Radio International throughout Liberia.

China is assisting Liberia with several development and antipoverty initiatives, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the LBS improvements would help “inform Liberians of the progress taking place in the country.”

The cost of the radio project is estimated to be US$4 million.

LBS now has relay stations in six counties — Lofa, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, Bomi and Maryland — which are fed from the capitol, Monrovia, via microwave and satellite links.

Under terms of an understanding between China and Liberia, the government of China will provide maintenance for the new LBS facilities for one year, after which China Radio International will contract a Chinese firm to provide maintenance for an additional four years.

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