In an effort to control and contain further spread of the coronavirus, the head of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Dr. Mosoka Fallah, has proffered a new module that would ensure strict adherence of health protocols on a cross-country basis.
Speaking in an exclusive interview via mobile phone upon his return from Nimba, where he had gone to assess activities at one of the nation’s 131 informal crossing points, the NPHIL Director named low masks usage and low hand washing mechanisms as major health protocols that are being ignored not just at the border, but within the city center of Ganta.
The NPHIL boss had gone to the county along with a team comprising Deputy Border Patrol Commander, Col. Aaron Kermue of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Mr. Olayee Collins, Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs, and Dr. Solomon Campante, Medical Specialist at the International Organization on Migration (IOM), to assess the activities of people in Ganta and at one of the nation’s illegal crossing points.
“The intent of our visit was to detect the activities at one of these illegal crossing points to know whether the health protocols are working there. Most of the counties have this issue, but if we can understand one, then we can do the others,” he explained.
According to him, there were lots of eye-openers on severe breaches of the two main health protocols (mask use and hand-washing).
“It was a challenging trip, as we had to see one of those illegal crossing points. There were lots of eye-opening on a couple of issues that need to be addressed. The use of masks was extremely low. In fact, about 98 percent of the people were not using masks in the major market center and at the border,” he stated.
The NPHIL head asserted that their findings at the only informal crossing point visited are a clear indication that all 131 illegal crossing points pose great risks to the country in terms of cases, as the people are still carrying on illegal trade without any strict adherence to the laid down health protocols.
He stressed the need for strong collaboration with key stakeholders including authorities of the Liberian government as well as international partners, including the International Organization on Migration (IOM) and United Nations agencies.
“There is a need to concentrate our energy and focus by working in collaboration with the Legislature and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, IOM and UN agencies to curtail this disease. I tell you, there are huge activities taking place in terms of the movements of goods and services without control,” Dr. Fallah furthered.
In a bid to start the process of engagement, the NPHIL boss disclosed that the team met with the local community to find a way forward.
“After leaving the borders, we had mass meetings with the chiefs, the youth, and the watch forum. They spoke their mind and we thought to find a way forward. The district commissioner will liaise with the youth so that we can have a joint team so that those protocols can be put into place because those modules existed during the Ebola,” he added.