By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through the Senate’s Standing Committee Chairman on Health has announced an urgent need for government to provide US$1.5 million to fight Ebola related cases.
When the Ebola first hit Liberia few months ago, the Health Ministry requested US$1.2M to curtail the epidemic but due to budget shortfall faced by government, only US$250,000 was made available out of that proposed amount. There has been no breakdown of that money as to how it was expended, according to Sinoe County Senator Joseph N. Nagbe.
Making the disclosure yesterday at Capitol Hill during the Senate 45th day sitting in its chambers, Grand Kru County Senator, Dr. Peter S. Coleman, told Plenary that it is essential that funds should be allotted in order to equip the Health Ministry to combat the virus.
Senator Coleman, who won on the ticket of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in his presentation to his colleagues in chambers, disclosed that there are 138 cases of Ebola in the country currently with 43 deaths recorded. Out of these 43 deaths, 10 health workers have also died in the process.
The Grand Kru Senator noted that the practice of traditional culture has posed danger to the fight against Ebola while the cases continue to increase. He told other Senators that 433 persons are under surveillance in both Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Coleman, also a health practitioner announced that the health sector has been encountering challenges since the outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic and so it is noteworthy that the ministry be given all the financial support to tackle the situation.
The former Health Minister during the tyrannical regime of convicted former President Charles Taylor informed his colleagues that due to wide publicity given the virus through the government backed by the local media here, Liberians currently traveling out of the country are facing serious challenges of being accepted by visiting countries.
Dr. Coleman said a comprehensive breakdown of the amount has been prepared, handed over to the Finance Ministry for perusal while the Health Ministry awaits mandate from the Senate’s Plenary for budgetary appropriation.
He noted that if the government finds it difficult in raising the amount, it should begin the process with little available amount to empower health workers and create some preventive measures that could safeguard Liberians in the near future if there may be any outbreak.
In response to Sen. Coleman’s report, Maryland County Senator, H. Dan Morais appealed to his colleagues not to underestimate the virus outbreak in the country and suggested that a state of emergency should be declared as a result of this deadly weapon.
After series of comments from several Senators supporting the request of the Health Ministry, Lofa County Senator, George Tamba Tengbeh, proffered a motion that the Plenary should mandate its leadership to meet with the House of Representatives’ leadership in the soonest possible time and instruct the Executive to disburse the money.