The hierarchy of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) yesterday, November 12, began hosting military groups from 21 African countries under the partnership of the African Partner Outbreak Response Alliance (APORA), to share experiences and build capacities in fighting infectious diseases.
The conference, which will take place from November 12-14, 2018, will be held at a resort in Margibi County, sponsored by the United States Government under the African Command (AFRICOM) program.
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder, told journalists in a brief interview that representatives of the 21 partnering countries drawn across Africa are in the country to share ideas as to how the military and civilians in each of the 21 countries can work together to improve their abilities and effectiveness in fighting infectious diseases.
Amb. Elder said experience shared at the conference was learnt the hard way, and that it was essential to come to Liberia under APORA to share together, since Liberia is one country that has experienced the deadly infectious disease Ebola.
After the conference, the Ambassador said partnering countries are expected to reflect on best practices by what they do in the respective countries.
Amb. Elder added that by sharing experiences, APORA member countries can design how to coordinate activities to deploy experts and seek logistics in case of outbreak of any disease in any member country. She said as the participants share experiences, it is certain that medical experts from the military and civilian sides will coordinate to build efficiency in the performance during fight against infectious diseases during an outbreak.
Defense Minister Daniel Dee Ziankahn, Jr., also described the conference as “very important,” from the standpoint that Liberia has encountered a major infectious disease that drew the world’s attention in 2014 and 2015.
He said the conference for military institutions from the 21 African countries would not have been held in Liberia if the U.S. Government had not supported it.
“We really want to get ahead of ourselves, having learnt lessons from the Ebola outbreak; and from the lesson learnt, we can try to prevent some of these diseases. We do not want to be reactive but proactive, in order to see how best we can work together amicably in Africa to find solutions to some of these problems,” Minister Ziankahn said.
He said the gathering of representatives of military institutions to discuss issues relating to infectious diseases is important, because diseases are still hunting Africans, making a reference to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a case study.
Colonel Krystal L. Murphy of the United States Africa Command, also noted that disease has no border between those in uniform and others without uniform.
Therefore, she said, it is a double threat that should raise a concern for both the government and international partners to intervene by putting measures in place.