President Weah Dedicates, Commissions Upgraded Polio Emergency Operations Center

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President Weah, flanked by Minister Jallah (left) and the First Lady (right) cuts ribbon to the polio emergency operations center

-Calls on parents to take advantage of the polio vaccines

President George M. Weah has dedicated and commissioned an upgraded polio emergency operations center, while urging parents to take advantage of the polio vaccines for their children. The center comes into operation just days after the health authorities announced the discovery of Liberia’s first case of polio since the disease was eradicated from the country in 2010.

At the dedication and commissioning program held Friday, February 5, 2021, President Weah describes the initiative as another important milestone for the health sector in Liberia, as it will enhance Government’s capacity and capability to control public health threats, including the polio virus.

“This Polio Emergency Outbreak Center will serve as a central command and control center in Liberia, to give strategic direction for public health operational decisions, coordinate partnerships for health security, and direct implementation of national public health response strategies,” President Weah said.

President Weah lauded Liberia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah and her hard-working team for taking the initiative and leading this process to success.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over two (2) million lives across the globe, makes us ever mindful of the importance of investing in our public health system, in order to strengthen its abilities to effectively address the needs of our People,” President Weah said.   

President Weah said there is also a need for strong national leadership and the development of a well-coordinated crisis response capability that is why Liberia has been relatively successful in managing the COVID-19 outbreak at an acceptable level so far, which is a testimony of my Government’s resolve to protect the lives of all Liberians.

“I am informed that Liberia is among the first African countries to defeat the wild-polio virus, with the last confirmed case in August 2010, and that we have continued to sustain wild-polio free status until the whole of the African region was certified virus-free in August 2020,” the Liberian leader said.

President Weah continued: “I am told that just three (3) months later, in December last year, a new case of polio virus was detected in Monrovia from two (2) environmental sites. The Minister of Health has assured me that this unfortunate event will be dealt with swiftly.”  

President Weah, government officials, and partners posed after the dedication program

Accordingly, President Weah said there are advanced plans for a nationwide polio vaccination campaign, which is planned to begin this month, to mitigate and contain future importation of cases from neighboring countries.

President Weah said the establishment and dedication of the Polio Emergency Outbreak Center is timely, as it will serve as the operational arm of the public health service to provide effective response to this new development.

“Our country has the experience and capacity to immunize all eligible children. I therefore call on all parents and health workers to ensure that the polio vaccine is administered to all of these children. Let us work together and cooperate fully with the health authorities to save our children from the scourge of polio,” President Weah said. 

According to him, global partnership is cardinal for health security, nothing that an outbreak in one country is an outbreak anywhere. 

“Without collaboration and support from our International Partners, it would be impossible to succeed at stopping any virus such as Covid-19 or polio from overwhelming our health system. That is why we are grateful for the strong partnership we enjoy with all our key Development Partners,” President Weah indicated. 

President Weah extended appreciation to Volunteer Services Overseas, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and all other partners for supporting the establishment of this Polio Emergency Outbreak Center.

Meanwhile, President Weah urges all Liberians and foreign residents to continue with the preventive measures against COVID-19 that have been issued by the Ministry of Health, stating “this is the most cost-effective way to contain this disease and enable the country to appropriately recover from the havoc unleashed by COVID-19.”

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