The President’s Annual Report on the State of the Nation will most likely be dominated by the GOL’s battle against the deadly Ebola virus disease that rocked the country in 2014. She will tell the Representatives and Senators assembled of the fierce battle against the virus which she and her team, led by the Ministry of Health, the Incident Management System, thousands of Liberian health workers, the Liberian people and our international partners have bravely fought. Today, with confirmed cases definitely below 10 throughout the country, this battle is almost won. By God’s grace, Liberia is poised to be declared Ebola-free!
Ellen is expected to receive an outburst of applause, probably a standing ovation, for bravely and brilliantly leading this battle as Commander-in-Chief and winning it. Our patriotic brother, Representative Saah Joseph, even crossed the border into neighboring Sierra Leone with ambulances and supplies to continue the fight there, too.
Next, President Sirleaf will most likely lay out to the nation and the world, especially our international partners, her post-Ebola AGENDA. She will start by recapping all the support we have received from our international partners and all their pledges in the post-Ebola period.
She will begin with the offer by the Chinese government, delivered through its Ambassador Zhang Yue, to help Liberia develop its post-Ebola healthcare and medical system.
She restate the United States’ pledge to do all it can to help rebuild Liberia’s healthcare delivery system.
The next most important thing the President may attempt is to lay out before the Legislators is her roadmap, to be embarked upon immediately, on how this is to be accomplished—what Liberia’s post-Ebola healthcare delivery system should look two years from now. She will seek to establish health centers and hospitals in the remotest parts of Liberia, especially places in the southeast such as Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru and River Cess counties that have not seen a modern hospital in generations. She will tell the Legislators how she intends to intensify the training, in great numbers, of our health, medical and paramedical personnel as well as medical specialists of every kind, some of whom the John F. Kennedy Medical Center once boasted but not since the 1980 coup d’etat; and some of whom we have never had.
The President will outline a sustainable plan for how these healthcare delivery workers will be paid, and how they will be encouraged to be willing to serve in remote parts of the country.
Closely tied to this grand plan to fix Liberia’s healthcare and medical system is the nation’s Education system which is in shambles and needs a dramatic turnaround—but how? Is the big question which she will have to answer in her Message. The system is broken at all levels, from nursery through through tertiary, where even the state-run University of Liberia, after successive entrance examinations, administered to thousands of applicants, still can hardly find 300 really qualified ones to enter.
This educational crisis also affects the vocational and technical institutions, some of which have been badly run and attempts to fix the system has met with stiff resistance by former and current employees.
The President has recently spoken of grave concern with the thousands of young people on the streets and how she can bring them into the education system to assure them a brighter future. Most likely she will state how she intends to address this serious challenge, where over 65% of the population is under 25.
The Legislators themselves know of the many efforts the President has made in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure—energy, roads, water, etc., and how much of this has been interrupted by Ebola that drove many expatriate personnel manning these projects out of the country. With Ebola almost gone, these expatriates are slowly returning to resume their work.
There are two other critical areas that the President would need to tackle in her Message—how to fix Agriculture and assure the nation its food security; and how to empower Liberians in business. This latter one is critical, for that is the only way Liberians will defeat poverty. Keep foreigners dominating the Liberian economy and keep Liberians in perpetual poverty.
The President has a tall but challenging order of business today. We wish her well!