A strongly-worded communication authored by some ranking members of the Senate Committee on Health, Gender, Social Welfare, Women & Children’s Affairs, requesting the appearance of Health and Social Welfare Minister before the Senate plenary has surfaced in the Chambers of the 53rd Senate.
The communication, signed by Senators Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence, Geraldine Doe-Sherif and Armah Zolu Jallah, requests the Minister of Health to address the issues of the lack of coordination and ineffectiveness in managing not only the Ebola disease, but also the consequences of the crisis.
The Senate plenary has, however, sent the communication back to the leadership of that committee, headed by Grand Kru County Senator Dr. Peter Coleman, with the mandate to gather and give the Senate more information and details on the status of the fight against Ebola.
In their letter, read last Thursday, the three outspoken Senators informed their colleagues that their decision was prompted by continuing dissatisfaction exhibited by citizens and residents of the country over the handling of the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
The letter reminded the plenary that it has been six months since the country started the fight against Ebola. “But today, the Senate has not received a plan and information as to which organization is involved with this fight against Ebola, and what are their respective functions. In addition, we are not updated on the progress being made,” the letter read.
It is common knowledge that most of the efforts in the anti- Ebola fight relies on support by several international institutions in collaboration with the MOH.
The Senators asserted that research conducted clearly shows that 90% of the Ebola crisis is being managed by international organizations, leaving the Ministry of Health with contact tracing, quarantining, and monitoring also with support from international organizations.
The communication acknowledged the strong involvement of international organizations such as Medicins San Frontiers, WHO, Save the Children (UK), the Uganda Team, International Medical Corp, CDC-USA, Liberian National Red Cross Society and International Red Cross and Red Crescent.
“As our country continues to deal with the challenges of the spread of the Ebola virus, government is required to address the issue of the lack of coordination and ineffectiveness in managing not only the Ebola disease, but also the consequences of the crisis,” the letter said.
Asserting that it was better late than never, the Senators recommended that that the Minister of Health appear before the Senate with a county-to-county plan to fight the virus, and at the same time give reasons why the home and community of the late Eric Duncan were not attended to by the contact tracing team.
The Senators further demanded that during his appearance, the Minister be requested to brief the Senate on efforts being made to contain the virus, and to present a report on the application of the message and international resources and the impact of these resources in the fight against the deadly disease. “These, when achieved, will enlighten members of the Senate on the issue of the discharge of their duties,” said the Senators.
Despite the decision to send the communication to the committee room, both Senators Lawrence and Doe Sherif put up a strong representation on why they were seeking the direct involvement of the plenary in requesting that body to take a comprehensive action by ensuring that the Minister appear before the body, maintaining that the issue is no longer a matter for committee to take a definite action.
For his part, Senator Coleman, the chair of that committee, in counter-reaction to his co-members’ communication, registered his regret that such a communication was emanating from ranking members of the Health Committee. He recalled that two months ago, the email addresses of all Senators were obtained in order to update them on the fight against Ebola and since then, they have been updated twice a week on the number of cases, deaths, contacts, and highlights of what is happening in every county.
“If my colleagues have any consideration of this nature, they could have brought it to the committee where we could have convened a meeting; but to see this thing happening, I consider it as stabbing the chairman in the back,” Senator Coleman charged.