National Public Health Institute Act before Senate

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The Senate yesterday received from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for enactment into law an Act to establish the “National Public Health Institute of Liberia.”

In her September 2 letter, President Sirleaf informed the lawmakers that the objective of the Bill is to create the legal framework to establish the National Public Health Institute of Liberia, which shall perform several functions.

According to the letter, the Bill will: “Contribute to the development and sustainability of the public health workforce; develop, enhance and expand the surveillance and response platforms; develop and strengthen the laboratory system and public health diagnostics; and expand, conduct, and coordinate public health and medical research to perform Liberian public health policies.”

Upon the passage of this Bill, President Sirleaf noted that the Act establishing the National Research Institute of Liberia, commonly known as the Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research (LIBR), “shall be repealed. Section 30.2 (d, e, o) of the 1972 Executive Law, Title 12 of the Liberia Code Law Revised shall be amended transferring Public Health and Biomedical Research functions of the Ministry of Health to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia.”

President Sirleaf recalled that the country has experienced profound instances of infectious diseases that were catastrophic, the most recent being the Ebola outbreak that engulfed the country and killed many citizens and foreign nationals, and exposed Liberia’s weaknesses and underscored the need for an improved and robust healthcare system.

“Mr. President Pro Tempore, upon the passage of this Bill, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia shall collaborate with and strengthen the Ministry of Health and other institutions in the health sector in order to heighten the infection prevention and control efforts of the government of Liberia.”

The Bill was sent to the Senate Committee on Gender, Health, Women, Children and Social Welfare.

Meanwhile, Pro Temp Armah Jallah yesterday failed to make the final decision on a motion from Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie barring Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney G. Sherman from speaking twice on a matter.

The issue concerns a letter from Senator Sherman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Judiciary to the Senate plenary, requesting that body to conduct an open vote of confidence for him to continue to serve in that capacity while the matter of the Global Witness Report is still pending before the courts of Liberia.

Senator Sherman, reportedly Liberia’s most successful corporate lawyer, has been indicted by the government of Liberia through a Special Committee commissioned by President Sirleaf for the commission of the crimes of economic sabotage, bribery, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy.

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