‘Community Engagement Essential to Health Promotion Strategies’

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The National Health Promotion Department of the Ministry of Health yesterday launched a new strategy aimed at understanding ordinary Liberians.

Assistant Minister for Curative Services, Dr. Catherine Cooper, said “The new strategy does not bring a top to bottom (approach), but from bottom to top.”

According to Dr. Cooper, community engagement is essential to health promotion strategies because community dwellers’ understanding of prevention will help to enhance measures against disease outbreaks.

Dr. Sampson Arzoaquoi, Deputy Health Minister for Preventive Services, said “healthcare goes beyond the scope of the Ministry and therefore everyone needs to participate in the promotion of the program.”

The Director of National Health Promotion Department, Reverend John B. Sumo, said responses from community residents during the 2014 Ebola outbreak teach health workers how to apply the community engagement approach.

At the onset of the Ebola Virus, Rev. Sumo recalled how community members at first did not follow preventive protocol, but as time went by, they began to understand the message which helped health workers to contain the disease.

Rev. Sumo underscored the need to strengthen leadership for coordination and management, strengthening human resource capacity for health promotion, and creating supportive environment conducive for health.

Additionally, he said the new strategy seeks to strengthen community actions for health and strengthen research and evidence-based health promotion interventions. Furthermore the establishment of risk communication policies for epidemics, prioritizing public health conditions and health promotion financing are other objectives of the new approach.

Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other non-governmental organizations spoke in one accord that the strategy is of international standard and a good one to work with.