The second Joint External Assessment of Liberia was effectively completed, and the country made a commitment to improve both national and international health security.

Sep 13, 2023 | Health | 0 comments

September 10, 2023, Monrovia The Liberian Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency completed a five-day workshop from September 4 to 8, 2023, with support from the WHO, World Bank, FAO, UNICEF, USAID, US CDC, and others. This workshop represented the second phase of Liberia’s International Health Regulations (IHR) core competencies Joint External Evaluation (JEE) using JEE 3.0.

Liberia, like Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Zanzibar, voluntarily took the second JEE using the new JEE 3.0 technology to improve health security. This updated tool integrates COVID-19 pandemic teachings.

Over 200 people from the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice (Liberian National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Fire Services), National Defence, National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Environmental Protection Agency, Liberia Airport Authority/Civil Aviation Authority, National Red Cross Society, and others attended the workshop.

Dr. O-Tipo Shikanga led 15 technical specialists from the World Health Organization Zambia in an external review, underlining JEE results’ importance. These results will help Liberia identify major gaps in its human and animal health systems, prioritising possibilities for increased preparedness and swift public health response.

“Our country has a strong one-health platform that can respond to public health incidents across sectors. Further actions would be based on 2023 JEE report recommendations, “Dr. Shikanga, 2023 Joint External Evaluation panel lead, said.

He also advised the country to create a five-year risk-based National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS), map resources, and construct a strong monitoring and assessment structure. These measures will completely address the second JEE’s health security deficiencies using lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and previous public health incidents.

Mr. Collins Chansa, Senior Health Economist and Team Lead for Health at World Bank Liberia stressed the importance of this exercise coinciding with a review of the bank’s support for Liberia. JEE results will heavily influence future health security programmes.

During the JEE conclusion ceremony, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, the Honourable Minister of Health, thanked Evaluation experts and partners like the World Bank and WHO. She was satisfied with the method, whose results reflect reality.

“The JEE revealed system strengths and flaws. We must act on these findings by implementing reforms to increase our capacities and safeguard and promote public Health, “said Dr. Jallah.

Dr. Jallah also advocated radical change, innovation, and collaboration to make Liberia safer and healthier.

“It’s our joint responsibility to cease this chance to create radical change, embrace innovation, and collaboration for a healthier and safer Liberia”, stated Dr. Jallah.

Liberia is committed to establishing a resilient healthcare system to withstand health risks and protect its residents and neighbours.

The WHO Representative was optimistic that the recommendations and lessons learned from COVID-19 and the first National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) would guide the next five-year NAPHS in building a comprehensive resource mobilisation plan to address identified gaps.

“Public health systems differ per country. Public health catastrophes require immediate action, thus, we must increase our readiness. With determination, most immediate, medium, and long-term recommendations can be met quickly, “said Dr. Peter.

Dr. Peter stressed the need for One Health and a functioning steering committee.

“The evaluation team’s One Health feedback is honest and transparent. Dr. Peter advised making the One Health steering group functioning and scheduling quarterly or semester meetings to monitor progress and bring all private and faith-based partners together to stay on track. “I also see chances from WHO flagship initiatives and the pandemic fund for Liberia.”

In closing, he commended the government for this exercise, which offers a chance to refocus the national health security agenda, and partners remain committed to supporting it.

This evaluation assesses Liberia’s progress in addressing the initial JEE recommendations, health security investments after the Ebola epidemic and COVID-19 pandemic, and additional areas for improvement. This proactive approach is necessary to avoid, detect, and respond to public health hazards from climate change, wars, displacements, and natural and man-made disasters. Liberia’s commitment to improve IHR core capacities supports sustainable development and SDG 3 by 2030 by increasing Health and well-being for all.

Liberia, an IHR (2005) signatory, continues to fulfil its IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework obligations, including required State Parties Annual Reports (SPAR) and voluntary Intra and After Action Reviews (IAR/AAR), Simulation exercises, and Joint External Evaluations (JEE). These procedures evaluate the country’s IHR capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health concerns.

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