LIBERIA—The World Health Organisation (WHO) country office in Liberia, has just conducted a National COVID-19 After Action Review (AAR) symposium in Monrovia.

WHO vowed to remain supportive of Liberia’s health sector through the provision of technical and financial support.

WHO Emergency Preparedness Response Team Lead Coordinator Dr. Julius Monday made the commitment at the end of a three-day symposium in Monrovia.

Dr. Monday said that WHO would remain committed to ensuring that Liberia remains healthy and safe from health emergencies.

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health with funding from the WHO on Wednesday, 19 July 2023 ended a three-day brainstorming meeting on COVID-19 After Action Review symposium in Monrovia.

The initiative was aimed at examining the impact, challenges, and as well as Liberia’s preparedness and response in dealing with and handling public health emergencies using the COVID-19 experience as a case study.

The three-day AAR brainstorming meeting was held at the E.J.S Ministerial Complex in Congo Town and brought together hundreds of county health officers (CHOs) from the fifteen counties.

The CHOs were assembled to access the AAR and develop a national compass that will be used to respond to public health emergencies.

The program was also graced by several partners including Dr. Amadous Alassane Cisse of UNICEF Liberia, and Madam Claudette Grant, new Country Director of the United States Center for Disease Control (US CDC), among others.

The symposium’s primary objective was to improve future disease outbreak response based on documented lessons learned and best practices from COVID-19 preparedness and response.

Dr. Monday congratulated Liberia for its efforts in fighting and defeating COVID-19.

According to him, Liberia is now positioned among the first five countries in Africa to have conducted COVID-19 After Action Review meeting.

“This COVID-19 After Action Review is important because it points out indicators with relation to challenges and progress made in the fight against COVID-19 and how to prepare for future outbreaks,” he said.

Dr. Monday pointed out that Liberia is again among the few countries in Africa that have fewer cases of COVID-19 not because the virus was not strong, but because of the method and approaches used by the government.

“Other countries have taken lessons from Liberia’s approaches in ending this. Liberia’s methods used on fighting COVID-19 ranging from your community first approach, home-based management, case management, community surveillance, and speedy vaccination are all documented, and countries will use your approach to solve other emergencies,” Dr. Monday concluded.

WHO and Liberia hand in hand to fight Covid

Liberia tackled community transmission of COVID-19 in 2022 through rapid diagnostic testing of community members in locations where newly confirmed cases were reported proved instrumental in breaking the transmission chains.

Additionally, through a reactive vaccination approach, efforts were made to reach out to individuals who had not yet received the vaccine and encourage them to get vaccinated.

This approach resulted in 15,463 people being fully vaccinated, contributing 0.4% to the country’s overall vaccination coverage of 81% of the population by April 30, 2023.

The Community-Based Surveillance and Response (CBSR) reinforced community engagement by integrating testing, vaccination, case management, contact tracing, and addressing misinformation. It also involved the supply of infection prevention kits and home-based isolation and care of confirmed cases.

With support from WHO, mobile health teams on a total of 162,018 samples in the counties of Montserrado, Nimba, Margibi, and Grand Bassa.

From July 15, 2022, to April 30, 2023, a total of 320 cases were confirmed in these counties, with Montserrado having 166 cases, Nimba with 113 cases, Margibi with 18 cases, Lofa with 12 cases, and Grand Bassa with 11 cases.

With the decline in demand for voluntary COVID-19 testing in Liberia, the community-based response initiative enabled the monitoring of epidemiological trends to guide control measures.

“With testing in communities, we are reaching both the asymptomatic and symptomatic cases. That way we are undertaking timely isolation of confirmed cases leading to a break in the chain of transmission,” explains Dr Monday Julius, the WHO team lead for health emergencies in Liberia.

The positive impact on vaccination uptake contributed to Liberia joining Mauritius, Rwanda, and Seychelles as the only four African countries to achieve the 70% global vaccination coverage target by December 2022.

WHO has supported 18 other African countries to implement COVID-19 community-based surveillance and response initiative with guidance to use the lessons learned in implementing this strategy for improving surveillance and response to other epidemic-prone diseases.

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