The Liberian government and the World Bank Group (WB), in partnership with the Government of Japan, have launched a new US$3m project to address the effects of the Ebola crisis and promote psychosocial health in the country.
“Over 18,000 persons in Montserrado and Margibi Counties will benefit from the three-year project, which will also support capacity building of existing cadres of mental health providers,” said Ms. Inguna Dobraja of the World Bank Group.
Making the disclosure yesterday at the World Bank office in Monrovia, Country Manager Dobraja explained that the launch of the US$3 million project is a milestone, “in our joint efforts as Liberia experiences a reduction of new Ebola cases throughout the country.”
“The Psychosocial Health and Resilience project,” the WB Country Manager said, “will respond to the most urgent psychosocial and mental health needs resulting from the Ebola crisis and will also contribute to building psychological resilience at the individual and community level.”
Ms. Dobraja lauded the Japanese Government for supporting the project, and expressed optimism for “a smooth working relationship with the Ministry of Health and the Carter Center during the implementation of the project.”
In her remarks, the Chief Medical Officer of Liberia and Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice Dahn, said the support of the World Bank will ease the psychosocial impact of the deadly Ebola virus in the country.
The Health Ministry also recognized the contribution of the Carter Center in training over 100 mental health clinicians who are currently providing services in the various counties,” she said.
The Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, Kaoru Yoshimura, underscored his government’s continued commitment to eradicating the Ebola Virus Disease from Liberia.
According to him, the Government of Japan has, to date, contributed more than US$100m to fight the virus, adding that out of this amount, the World Bank has been allocated US$20m to support an Ebola Recovery and Reconstruction Trust Fund for Liberia.
“Japan will continue to support ‘post-Ebola’ initiatives based on our understanding that recovery in the society from the damage is significant for resilience,” the Ambassador declared.
“We would like to contribute to post-Ebola matters together with the Government and people of Liberia. A (stable) psychosocial condition is needed for the people of Liberia to bounce back from the effects of Ebola,” he maintained.
He promised that Japan will continue to support Liberia’s efforts especially in the areas of infrastructure, such as power, roads, health, education and food security, as well as capacity building of the people.
Dr. Janice Cooper, the Carter Center’s Project Lead for its Mental Health Program in Liberia, explained that the Ebola outbreak in the country increased mental health and psychosocial issues of individuals and communities, and the project represents an opportunity to help heal the psychosocial consequences it left behind.
Said Dr. Cooper, “The project’s innovative interventions will also help foster resilient individuals and communities that can contribute to the country’s recovery and development.”
In remarks, Dr. Rianna Mohammed-Roberts, World Bank Senior Health Specialist and Bank Task Team Leader responsible for Liberia’s health portfolio, emphasized that Montserrado and Margibi Counties were badly hit by the virus and such a program will greatly alleviate the issue of mental health problems.
“The Japanese Social Development Fund will help mitigate the psychosocial impact of Ebola virus in Liberia,” she noted, adding that implementation of interventions will incorporate counseling, community dialogues and anti-stigma campaigns.”
At the ceremony were Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, other Health Ministry officials, officials of the Justice Ministry, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), development partners and project beneficiaries.