President Sirleaf Commends Japan

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has commended the Government and people of Japan for their desire to reinforce Africa’s ownership of its development initiatives, a dispatch from Nairobi, Kenya has said.

President Sirleaf was addressing the Sixth International Conference on African Development (TICAD) taking place in the East African nation.

She commended the exemplary leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the decision to host TICAD VI in Nairobi, and expressed gratitude to President Uhuru Kenyatta and the people of Kenya for their warm hospitality.

President Sirleaf said the hosting of TICAD VI for the first time in Africa symbolizes Japan’s desire to reinforce Africa’s development initiatives derived from TICAD as the continent pursues its ambitious Agenda 2063 and provides an opportunity for alignment of TICAD VI with Agenda 2063, commencing with the First Ten Year Implementation Plan.

It allows Africa the opportunity to build synergies among the Africa Agenda, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the proposed Nairobi Declaration, she said.

This forum gives due recognition to Africa as an important player and broker, as a strong regional economy in the scheme of globalization. Liberia and the rest of Africa salute Japan on this initiative and the results to be gained from continued bilateral engagement through TICAD.

The President also lauded the organizers for dedicating a special session to discuss one of the global challenges of our time – building a resilient health system under the topic “Promoting Resilient Health Systems for Quality of Life”. She noted that in the aftermath of the devastating effects of the Ebola virus disease, this subject resonates very strongly in the three most affected countries.

“It brings sad memories; sad recollections of an inadequate health care system, the lack of preparedness and response mechanisms that led to the loss of almost 200 health care workers including medical doctors,” she lamented

“The devastation of Ebola was more profound, which led to the near collapse of the economy that was on the way, at 5.9 percent growth rate, to rebound from the shock of sharp decline in global commodity prices. Growth plummeted to 0.4 percent, affecting all our plans and targets for expansion in basic services to our people; while the effect of the crisis went beyond devastation in the affected countries and region as it quickly escalated to a global crisis.”

She said: “We learned a good lesson from the crisis: that when the community welfare is at stake, community engagement is the best response mechanism; thus community mobilization provides citizens the opportunity to take ownership of their wellbeing and health, thus increasing life expectancy and happiness.”

President Sirleaf also noted the critical role of the private sector in the ASEOWA initiative – as a result of which several companies joined together to support the work of ASEOWA, and used the occasion to express, “on behalf of the Liberian people, special thanks to you, Prime Minister Abe and the people of Japan for the bilateral support given the affected countries through ASEOWA.”

She alluded to a five-year plan geared towards improved access to quality services through strengthened capacity of the health network; creation of Health Emergency Risk Management Systems; promoting an enabling environment that restores trust in health authorities through community engagement; improved leadership, governance and accountability; development of sustainable health financing systems that ensures efficiency and equity in use of health resources.

“As we consider improvement in health systems under the Nairobi Declaration it is important to address the challenges within developing countries ensuring concerted effort and a holistic approach, one that combines science-based evidence and traditional knowledge; one that supports the development of vaccines and immunization systems and the support of African Centers for Disease Control,” the Liberian leader said passionately.

She said Liberia is moving in this direction by establishing a National Public Health Institute to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats through research. She thanked the Government of Japan for its investment in this plan through support for Community-based initiatives, technical cooperation and capacity building. Liberia commits to the Nairobi Declaration and pledges its support to continue to work toward Universal Health Coverage.

TICAD is attended by Asian and African leaders, including President Idriss Deby of Chad and Chairman of the African Union Authority, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Madam Nkosana Dlamini Zuma, Chairman of the African Union Commission, the private sector, civil society and academicians.

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