6 January 2016

Liberia: VP Boakai Office Gets Boost Gates Foundation Awards Nearly U.S. $1.5 Million Grant

It seems Liberia’s Vice President and potential candidate in the 2017 presidential elections has begun to show some juice. International clout, particularly relationship with private and public organizations and institutions of the United States, is an added asset that Liberian politicians strive to bag in the face of elections to woo the unsuspecting electorate. And certainly, “international contact” and real or perceived US approbation of one candidate or another will be crucial elections issues in 2017. Meanwhile, it seems Veep Boakai is passing the preliminary test, as the foundation owned by one of United States’ richest men, Bill Gates has begun doing business with his office. As The Analyst has found out, the Gates Foundation has just awarded a handsome $1.495m to Mr. Boakai’s office for research purposes.

The Office of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have signed an agreement for a Research Grant totaling US$1.495 Million dollars (one million, four hundred and ninety-five thousand US dollars). The Grant will be used to underwrite the cost of researching and publishing a study on challenges and hindrances of community reintegrating of survivors of deadly diseases.

The perception study and the accompanying intervention will be conducted to discover how people perceive Ebola, asking, what factors might influence their perceptions, and what types of care and support survivors need to enhance their reintegration in society, according to a release issued by the Office of the Vice President.
The project will be implemented by the Center for Liberia’s Future headed by Dr. Emmanuel Dolo and will run for a period of 18 (eighteen) months.

The proposed work will cover all 15 counties and will include some villages, towns, and cities- rural and urban. The study population will include at least 1000 adults residing in villages, towns, and cities across Liberia. A multistage sampling technique will be used. In the first stage, one urban county will be selected along with two large size rural counties and one medium size rural county.

To ensure transparency and proper accountability, Vice President Boakai, has asked the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to serve as Fiduciary Agent of grant, while the VP’s office monitor the implementation of the Project. The Vice President has also requested the Ministry of Health to review the final report of the research prior to submission to the Gates Foundation.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning has identified the Project Financial Management Unit (PFMU) as the Organ that will oversee this Project.
It is expected that upon completion of the project, the report will be used to help improve preventative health communication and national data collection and reporting on the outbreak of infectious diseases. Additionally, it will accelerate behavioral change in emergency response so that communities can properly manage and achieve early detection, response, containment, surveillance, data collection and better communication with the larger public.

At the least, thousands of lives will be impacted as they will understand the gravity of the threat that deadly diseases poses leading to prevention and suppression of future outbreaks. The investment will try to address the wide knowledge gap, derive lessons from the study that can contribute to prevention and possible response and at the same time facilitate reintegration supports for survivors.


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