A prominent Liberian epidemiologist has urged civil society groups to make immunization strategies practical nationwide.
Mr. Raymond Toupiley, Data Manager of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) gave the caution last Tuesday at the first General Assembly of the Liberia Immunization Platform (LIP) in Monrovia.
The LIP is an organization comprising 22 civil society groups, championing the mass immunization of children and child-bearing mothers nationwide.
EPI’s Data Manager Toupiley also urged the LIP leadership to push for inclusion in the World Health Organization, in order for the entity to exhibit swift responses to the immunization program of the country.
He said that Liberia’s southeastern counties have exhibited poor performance in terms of immunization coverage owing to enormous factors.
Mr. Toupiley intimated that some of the factors associated with poor immunization coverage are due to bad road conditions and also because people are not taking the initiative to spearhead vital medical programs.
He reminded the LIP staff that it is one of the responsibilities of civil society groups to ensure that community dwellers take part in immunization programs of children and child-bearing mothers in the country.
Mr. Toupiley acknowledged, however, that the entity since 2008 has been able to achieve at least 88% of immunization coverage.
He however said that owing to the current spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, such achievements have suffered setbacks, declining in several parts of the country.
Mr. Toupiley disclosed that Liberia is at 70% immunization coverage and that three of Liberia’s rural counties are far below the performance radar, in terms of immunization of children and child-bearing mothers.
“After the Ebola virus crisis in Liberia, LIP has a greater role and responsibility and we don’t want the staff to sit in these offices but go out into the field to work,” Mr. Toupiley said.
“Work out your immunization plans and we’re ready to share all the great and good information with you in order to vaccinate all our children wherever they are in our war-affected country,” Mr. Toupiley emphasized.
He further admonished LIP and its members to not take sides in immunization initiatives, saying that immunization is aimed at rendering services to the future generation of Liberian children.
Catholic Relief Service (CRS) Liberia’s Senior Advisor Raymond Studer described the first LIP General Assembly as a significant event, saying that he was happy that over 25 Liberian civil society groups had come together to work out plans.
“Frankly, I wish to let you all know that you people are doing what I’m doing as a local partner in the immunization process of Liberia,” Mr. Studer asserted.
He explained that the CRS is principally interested in empowering communities in Liberia, especially in the vital and all-important health sector of the nation.
In remarks, the United States Agency for International Development’s (UASID) Representative on immunization, Mr. Stephen Sizi, thanked LIP staff for considering USAID in the immunization program.
Mr. Sizi told the audience and staff of LIP that working on child survivor issues is indeed a challenge and such endeavors should be approached with concerted efforts and a sense of collective endeavor, regardless of which country you are from.
Mr. Sizi stressed that the participation of grassroots organizations is important and that LIP must place itself in a cardinal role to fulfill this need nationwide.
For her part a Commissioner of the National Aid Commission (NAC), Mrs. Juineta Ramertz, noted that she regrets the huge impact the Ebola virus Disease (EVD) has had on the HIV-Aids program of the country.
“We will systematically assess all the sectors and communities the deadly Ebola virus has impacted across the country,” Commissioner Ramertz said.