Liberia: Modern Health Facility In Sight for Lawmakers on Capitol Hill

— As both Houses are poised to return to “Original Chambers”

The construction of a modern clinic, the purchasing of an ambulance, and the introduction of cutting-edge technologies, as well as the purchasing of electronic voting machines, and the building of legislative staffers’ capacities, are part of the legislative modernization program, the House of Representatives has disclosed. 

The Lower House’s Modernization Committee announced that in order to tackle emergency health problems or medical concerns, an emergency responders’ health center or clinic will be constructed on the grounds of the Capitol Building, with at least one ambulance for referral. 

Montserrado County District #1 Representative Priscilla Cooper is the chairperson of the House’s Modernization Committee. 

The committee said the clinic will be a state-of-the-art facility, a laboratory to provide diagnostic results among other medical equipment for illness and injury prevention, as well as aggressive screening to detect potentially serious conditions, early. 

Montserrado County District #1 Representative, Rep. Ruggie Yatu Barry, a member of the House’s Modernization Committee, made the assertions during Thursday’s session.

Barry also talked about the rehabilitation of the Capitol Building, including the old chamber, for relocation.

Bong County District #3 Representative and Chairman of the House’s Rules, Order and Administration, J.Marvin Cole, said Speaker Koffa’s leadership is also, for the first time, considering including an electronic voting machine (EVM) and the electronic door (key card) for the Chambers. 

The two lawmakers’ comments followed a communication from Montserrado County District #13 Representative Edward Flomo to construct a mini clinic at the Legislature for emergency cases. 

Flomo said: “In light of the pressing need to prioritize the health and safety of legislators, staff members, and visitors, I urge the esteemed plenary to collaborate with the Ministry of Health in establishing a mini-clinic on the grounds of the Legislature dedicated to handling emergency medical cases. 

The proposal to set up a mini-clinic within the Legislature premises aligns with best practices observed in other Legislatures worldwide and across Africa. Such healthcare facilities serve as vital resources for immediate response to medical emergencies, ensuring prompt and efficient medical care for individuals in need. 

“By establishing a dedicated mini clinic, the Liberian Legislature demonstrates a profound commitment to safeguarding the health and welfare of all occupants within the legislative environment,” Flomo’s letter stated. 

Representative Flomo’s letter further stated that the provision of timely medical assistance within the Legislature not only bolsters emergency preparedness but also underscores a proactive approach toward addressing unexpected health concerns that may arise. 

“The mini-clinic can cater to a range of medical emergencies, from minor injuries to more critical health incidents, thereby fostering a safer and more secure environment for all stakeholders present within the legislative premises. 

“As we collectively strive towards institutional reform and progressive advancements under the guidance of our esteemed Speaker, it is imperative to prioritize initiatives that enhance the legislative environment and uphold the well-being of all individuals within our esteemed institution,” The Montserrado County lawmaker indicated. 

In furtherance, the Montserrado County lawmaker noted that the establishment of a mini-clinic represents a tangible step towards realizing this shared commitment to health, safety, and effective governance.  

The lawmaker’s letter further underscored, “By collaborating with the Ministry of Health and leveraging existing models from legislatures globally, we can create a resilient healthcare infrastructure that serves the needs of all occupants of the Legislature.”  

The Modernization Committee, which was formed at the beginning of the 55th Legislature by Speaker J. Fonati Koffa, was tasked with researching a broad range of issues, identifying challenges and opportunities for reform, and offering recommendations for improving and strengthening the House of Representatives. 

The House’s Modernization Committee and the Senate Modernization Committee are known as the Joint Modernization Committee (JMC) aimed to bolster staff capacity, improve the facility of the Capitol Building (better equipped) with the inclusion of technology of the  21st century, and more. 

Return to Main Chambers

The House of Representatives and the Senate are considering returning to their respective Main Chambers following rehabilitation hopefully in 2025. 

Members of the Houses of Representatives and Senate have been using the “Main Chamber” of the Capitol Building since 1956 following its construction under the leadership of the late President William V.S. Tubman, the then Vice President William R. Tolbert, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Edwin Morgan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Richard Henries. 

The unique architectural designs of both chambers compel lawmakers to sit according to counties and the chambers have upward-sloping galleries for the press and the public. 

In 2018, the Representatives and Senate relocated from the “Main Chamber” of the Capitol Building to the Conference Room (Theater) of the annexes of the Capitol Building, funded and constructed by the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 

The construction of the annexes began in October 2016 under “The Grant Assistance Project.” The annexes of the New Capitol Building were formally completed in June 2018 and turned over. 

Jiangsu Jiangsu Construction Company constructed the annexes, while another Chinese company, the China International Engineering Design and Consultant Company Limited, supervised the engineering component. PRC’s Ministry of Commerce was responsible for the project. 

The annexes have 40 offices, while the Senate contains 20 offices. 

Each office is furnished with a desk and chair for a receptionist, cushion chairs for the waiting room, and an executive chair and desk for the Representatives and Senators.