Facility will enable the country to conduct rapid diagnostic evaluations of dangerous pathogens and elevate public health research
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder, has assured the Liberian government that her Government is committed to collaborating with Liberia in health safety and security.
Amb. Elder made the assertion on October 5 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the headquarters of a modern National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) opposite the SKD Boulevard in Congo Town.
The NPHIL is currently hosted in an emergency structure the US Government built after the Ebola crisis in 2014. When completed in 2019, the future home of the NPHIL will be a modern complex with many departments.
The project, including the construction of the Regional Reference Laboratory in Gbarnga, is a collaborative effort between the NPHIL, the Ministry of Health, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Threat Reduction Agency Cooperative Biological Engagement Program.
The US envoy said, “When completed in 2019, the facility will enable Liberia to more effectively address issues of bio-safety and bio-security. It will also enable the country to conduct rapid diagnostic evaluations of dangerous pathogens and elevate public health research.”
The center, according to Elders, will establish a central repository for the control of pathogens.
She said that the facility is more than just a building, and will require the steadfast commitment of all stakeholders to achieve the central goal of the Global Health Security Agenda – a world equipped to conquer infectious disease threats.
“The US is committed to continuing our partnership with the Government of Liberia in this important effort,” Amb. Elder said.
She said her government will work to strengthen Liberia’s laboratory systems, provide National Reference Laboratory staff with training and mentorship on laboratory quality management, continue the PREVAIL Clinical Research Partnership and provide operational support for the research lab. It will also continue support for laboratory systems, especially enhancing understanding of diseases transmitted from animals to human.
In her reflection of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf emphasized in a distressful mood that Liberians did not have any idea about the devastating disease, which claimed the lives of thousands of people.
She said as the disease started taking lives, it extended to Nigeria and Dallas, the United States, which claimed much needed attention that it was no longer a problem for only affected countries in the West Africa sub-region, but for the whole world.
The President said the Ebola virus disease claimed the US Government’s attention; and following words to President Obama, he sent troops here to help contain the disease.
She said the construction of the NPHIL headquarters is a venture to celebrate. The President also expressed gratitude to the United States Government and all partners including the World Health Organization for the support.
Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn recalled how they had started building the health sector, an effort that was interrupted by the outbreak of Ebola.
She added: “Today, it takes less than 48 hours to detect those same diseases that have affected the country…training of community health workers on prevention and control of infectious diseases is another achievement.”
Tolbert Nyenswah, National Public Health Institute Director, acknowledged community leaders and members for their cooperation in acquiring the land for the headquarters.
Mr. Nyenswah said cooperation from community members led to NPHIL acquiring the land without encumbrances.