3rd Int’l CHW Symposium Opens in Monrovia  -EJS, VP Taylor To Address

By Stephen G. Fellajuah

MONROVIA – The Third Edition of the International Community Health Workers Conference which is being hosted by the Ministry of Health in partnership with the World Health Organization(WHO), African Center for Disease Control, the United States Agency for International Development and  Golden Touch Corporation (GTC) with participants including over 700 community health workers from forty six countries in Africa and abroad, kicked off Monday, March 20, 2023, at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex to participate in the program slated to hold from March 20-24, 2023.

Speaking at a joint press conference Sunday, March 19, 2023 at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex, which was also attended by partners from the World Health Organization, UNICEF Liberia, among others, Health Minister Dr. Willimena Jallah said that they are excited to host the Community Health Workers Symposium for the first time.

According to her, the government of Liberia and its partners are fully prepared and ready to kick-start the initiative today, adding that the conference has currently been able to register over seven hundred (700) delegates both in and outside the country.

She pointed out that the delegates are from forty six countries (46) as well as high level representation from UN agencies, the Africa Center for Disease Control, development partners, community health champions, community health workers, researchers from foreign missions especially, USAID.

“We want to use this time and medium as a government to express our profound gratitude to all of our health partners, especially to Health System Global, USAID, the Global Fund, World Bank, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Last Mile Health, IRC, UNICEF, CHAL, Partner in Health and the Community Health Road Map for all your initial financial and technical support to this event. We also would like to thank the Golden Touch Corporation (GTC) for working closely with us in planning this auspicious event”, she concluded

Also making a brief statement at the press briefing, Mariah Subah, Country Director Last Mile Health noted that her institution was very privileged to form part of the symposium, stating that it was important to stress on the importance of community health workers, considering what has happened in the country in term of the pandemic.

She said the conference is building upon the resilience to make sure gains made are improved, taking into account all of the things that have happened in the 46 participating countries, and how to mitigate new challenges that are evolving and strategizing on ways to move Liberia’s community health system forward

For his part, Dr. Dennis Muhoza, UNICEF/ West and Central Africa Regional Health Office Specialist, said he was excited to gather with hundreds of others to talk about community health program, which he acknowledged as the pillar of the health system of Liberia, adding that community program is pivotal in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He said the symposium is one of the landmark points where delivered statements and commitments will help participating countries to strengthen their community health program, which according to him is the platform to the way forward as he pledged the UNICEF commitment to the success of the conference.

For her part, Jessica Healey, USAID/ Liberia’ Health Director said the team from Washington DC, USA was excited to join the conference in Monrovia. She said the gathering is about learning and sharing on how to build the global movement of community health workers.

Nazo Kureshy, Senior Community Health System Advisor, Bureau for Global Health, USAID as well as Dr Galina Abdu, , UNICEF/ Liberia Health Specialist were part of the press briefing as well.

The hosting rights of the conference were awarded to Liberia on June 29, 2020 from the Health System Global, a Community Health Workers Summit after the country won the competitive bid from a list of other competing countries. The conference is being hosted under the theme, “Advancing Community Health Worker Programs to Build Resilient and Equitable Health Systems that Accelerate Primary Health Care for Universal Health Coverage”. It comprises two days of pre-conference and three days of main event activities.

According to pre-conference information released by the Ministry of Health, this symposium is held every two years with the intention to provide an opportunity for advocacy for the host country and other nations for investment into its Community Health Program and the health system in general. The information also said, it seeks to provide the needed technical assistance to some member states to expand Community Health Programs on the continent and additionally, it is expected to bring together high level diplomatic guests and government officials as well as community health workers and developmental partners.

According to the schedule of the event, Monday and Tuesday are considered as Pre-conference days where delegates will present their posture and make presentations from their respective countries to enable Liberia and other countries to learn the best healthcare practices in order to see how the country can coordinate and collaborate with what other countries are doing.

On Wednesday, Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is regarded as a champion of the Community Health Workers, will take the center stage to speak and provide useful recommendations and tactics to Healthcare providers.

Along with Madam Sirleaf, other speakers from the United States, USAID, UNICEF among others will be sharing experience and knowledge on their response on how they see Community health workers and where they need to go.

On Thursday, there will be a delegate from the office of President George M. Weah who will make a remark on behalf of the government and the country and will be followed by entertainment and a field tour to expose the international delegates to the country.

On the final day of the symposium which will be on Friday, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor will officially launch Liberia Community Health Workers Policy and to climax the event, the official launch of the community health action plan will take place.

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