Traditional Chiefs, Elders Commit To Ebola Fight

Traditional Chiefs and Elders of Liberia have agreed to join government and its partners in the fight against the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.

The traditional chiefs said their renewed commitment is to continue their march towards the full eradication of the Ebola Virus and the restoration of basic health services in Liberia.

A release from the Internal Affairs Ministry said the statement was contained in a resolution reached over the weekend, at the end of the weeklong traditional chiefs’ consultative meeting on prevention of the Ebola Virus, which took place in Gbarnga, Bong County.

The consultative meeting was organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with the National Council of Chiefs and Elders, with funding from the Carter Center.

The meeting which brought together over 120 traditional leaders from across the country, was intended for chiefs to consult with national and international experts on the fight against the Virus, to know what has been done so far, what is needed to be done to cut its transmission, and how traditional chiefs and elders can get involved in the fight against Ebola.

In the statement, the traditional leaders resolved that they are prepared to join in the campaign of disseminating preventive Ebola messages in all towns and villages.

At the same time, the chiefs have called for empowerment of traditional leaders with logistical and financial support in order to undertake community outreach; as well as conduct training of traditional mid-wives and youth volunteers in the management and handling of Ebola related cases and delivery of pregnant women.

They are also calling for inclusion of traditional leaders on all levels of Ebola related task forces across the country.

Speaking at the opening, Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly challenged traditional chiefs throughout Liberia to take leadership role in the fight against the virus in their various communities.

“Your institution is a powerful one; you must use your office to do more awareness on Ebola in your counties. I respect you and your society and I am also part of you”. Hon. Dukuly emphasized.

Meanwhile, the head of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders, Chief Zanzan Karwor commended the Ministry of Internal Affairs for approving the meeting and the Carter Center for the sponsorship.

Chief Karwor assured that his council will ensure full compliance with all measures issued by the government and its partners.

For his part, the Chief of Party of the Carter Center-Liberia, Mr. Pewee Flomoku, assured the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Council Chiefs of his Center’s continuous commitment and support to traditional leaders in Liberia.

At the close the meeting, Carter Center distributed what it called ‘start-up packages’ for traditional chiefs, to include megaphones, flyers/posters and cash.

“This is the beginning of your empowerment; we will work with the Minister and the Council to do more”. Mr. Flomoku assured.

Representatives from several ministries and agencies as well as partners graced the meeting and made presentations on their respective roles in the fight against Ebola.

They include the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and the Bureau of Immigration. Others are the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control-USA, The Carter Center, UNICEF and UNFPA among others.