Following over six hours of deliberations, the Liberian Senate last Friday unanimously endorsed the state of emergency declared by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Wednesday night, in the wake of escalation in the spread of the Ebola epidemic.
The Senate’s decision followed an earlier action by members of the House of Representatives on Thursday to endorse the President’s communication informing them of her decision to declare the state of emergency.
The Senators, during their hours of debate, raised several concerns that they believe need to be addressed by the Task Force set up and chaired by President Sirleaf, among them, the welfare of health workers who are considered the frontline medical soldiers in combating or sustaining the Ebola epidemic.
Other areas of concern for the lawmakers are the nutritional care (food) for those who are going to be tested positive and quarantined, and the movement of people in areas that will be quarantined under the state of emergency.
Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif, in a communication to the Senate plenary, requested her colleagues to recommend to the Executive branch that in the absence of the passage of the national budget, government pays in lieu two months’ salary using the one-twelfth to all civil servants and encourage all private institutions to do same.
Others argued that if nothing were done to reduce the restriction imposed on movement of citizens as monitored by the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Government will soon be fighting the epidemic of hunger and starvation alongside the Ebola epidemic.
In the wake of that special extraordinary session, the Senators voted to invite several Government ministries and agencies who are members of the Task Force to appear before the Senate in Chambers at 11:00 a.m. today, Monday, August 11. Those Ministry and Agency heads cited to appear before the Senate include Justice, Internal Affairs, Defense, and Health Ministers; the Liberia National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization.
The plenary also requested the Senate Committee on Health, Gender and Children Affairs, headed by Senator Peter Coleman, to periodically brief the Senate on the operations of the Task Force.