Monrovia — To Stop the spread of circulating vaccine derived Polio Virus type 2 (cVDPV2) in Liberia and protect communities from this crippling disease, on 5th February 2021, the Government of Liberia and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners commissioned the first National Polio Emergency Center (EOC) in Liberia for effective coordination of activities towards Polio Eradication. The historic and well attended ceremony was held on the grounds of the old Ministry of Health Complex in Monrovia where the EOC is located.
The National Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will now serve as a central unit to coordinate data collection and national response to public health threats such as Polio. Furthermore, it will allow staff from different units, sectors, and organizations to work directly and collaboratively, share information in real time, and formulate a joint plan of action.
Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, Mr. Niels Scott, UN Resident Coordinator in Liberia said, Health emergencies like polio and COVID 19 pandemic have shown the importance of having adequate systems to detect and respond to public health emergencies. He called for increased investment in health infrastructure and highlighted the cost-effectiveness of preventive measures in comparison to treatment.
"Although Liberia is establishing its EOC as part of the Polio end game, it is indeed better late than never, it is our desire that it will serve this country beyond the Polio eradication initiative era and will help in the acquisition and transfer of skills to the younger public health experts in Liberia", said Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Minister of Health, Liberia.
Commissioning the EOC, His Excellency, Dr. George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia thanked all the GPEI Partners for prioritizing the health of the Liberian people and described the establishment of a National Polio EOC as timely.
"This EOC will serve as the operational arm for our Polio eradication initiatives in Liberia" said President Weah.
He then called on the public to ensure that their children are vaccinated later this month to prevent and stop further spread of Vaccines-derived Polio Viruses (cVDPV2) in Liberia.
Preceding the establishment of the National Polio EOC, the World Health Organization (WHO) supported the introduction of the use of innovative technology in surveillance, such as Integrated Supportive Supervision (ISS) and e-surveillance which provides real time monitoring of field activities.
Additionally, an environmental surveillance system was established in February 2020 as part AFP surveillance strengthening in Liberia to enable early detection of possibly imported Vaccines-derived Polio Viruses (cVDPV2) before it spreads widely. These interventions have started yielding the desired result through the early detection of cVDPV2 in the environment, that has direct link to the same cVDPV2 circulating in Ivory Coast.
The commissioning ceremony was performed by His Excellency, Dr. George M. Weah, President, Republic of Liberia, in the presence of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia, Heads of UN Agencies, Voluntary Service Organization (VSO) international, US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, the Chairman in charge of Health at the House of Representative, other GPEI partners, Senior Ministry of Health Staff and the media among others.