The U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Thomas Price, is currently in Liberia on a two-day visit. He is the first senior official of the Donald Trump Administration to visit Liberia since taking over from the Obama Administration early this year.
On arrival, Dr. Price held a closed door discussion with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was also on her way to the United States to attend some official duties.
Speaking shortly after arrival at the Roberts International Airport on May 17, Dr. Price said the visit is meant to “Deliver a message of support, appreciation and commitment” of the bilateral relation between the United States and Liberia.
He added that Liberia has over the years worked tremendously and shown resilience in battling infectious diseases, including the devastating Ebola virus disease, and the US working together with Liberia through mutual cooperation to build the needed health system in the country.
“Your work to promote global health security and your commitment to find and stop disease outbreaks here and around the world—whether they are natural, accidental, or deliberate—keeps Americans and others around the world safe,” Dr. Price said.
During the Ebola crisis, the US government sent about 4,000 military personnel to Liberia and also provided medical equipment and training for local health practitioners in handling Ebola cases and other infectious diseases.
Dr. Price, recalling these activities, said they are manifestations of the mutual relations between United States and Liberia. He also said because of the work done during and following the Ebola response, Liberia now has many public health systems and resources that it did not have before, including emergency operation centers, laboratories, stronger surveillance systems, and in-country technical support.”
“We are here to show President Trump’s appreciation to Liberians for the work they are doing, and we will work side by side to develop the health workforce to solve remarkable challenges in the area of infectious diseases,” Dr. Price said.
He also acknowledged the cooperation Liberians demonstrated to work together in containing the Ebola scourge and expressed the need to work with Liberia to prepare health practitioners to handle cases of infectious diseases.
In her welcoming statement, Health Minister Bernice Dahn described Dr. Price’s visit as a “big mark” in the history of Liberia’s health and the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Dr. Dahn also acknowledged the US government’s role in building Liberia’s health sector and provided some historical synopses of activities during and after the Ebola outbreak.
She said in the post-Ebola period, some health practitioners have studied and graduated in Epidemiology, a branch of medical science dealing with the transmission and control of infectious diseases.
She said the program was organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Dahn further indicated that the return of US Peace Corps has also helped to train health practitioners.
In response to questions about a recent “strange disease” in Sinoe County, the Health Minister said it was a test to determine how strong the health system is; and it has been proven that the system is becoming resilient, as the response to contain the strange disease has proven.
Dr. Price and his delegation were received by Ministers including Marjon Kamara of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Bernice Dahn and some deputy Ministers of Health, Eugene Nagbe of Information and US Ambassador Christine Elder and embassy officials.