“WASH Ebola Away Strategy” Extended to Communities

Along with the United Nations, European Union, African Union, the West African Group ECOWAS, including the Mano River Basin, and other friendly countries doing all they can, the Liberian Government is exerting all means and efforts to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

Despite major efforts to contain the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia, which was first reported in Foya, Lofa County during March of this year, after spilling over from neighboring Guinea, that quest by Government and its international health partners have yet to yield significant results.

Three weeks ago, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, speaking at the Public Works Ministry in Monrovia, launched another component of the Government’s fight against the Ebola outbreak: “WASH Ebola Away Strategy”.

This strategy is coordinated directly by the National WASH Promotion Committee, member of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector of Liberia and key partner to the

National Ebola Response. The public awareness and messaging component of the “WASH Ebola Away Strategy” is being sponsored by Global communities (formerly CHF International).

Following the announcement of the strategy, its operations were launched in three communities in the greater Monrovia area, including Virginia, the largest slum of West Point and Fiamah, in Montserrado County.

During the ceremonies in these communities, speakers explained the overall objectives of the strategy to community residents as well as the expected achievements during the first, three-month phase of implementation.

The Coordinator of the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Committee, Abdul Koroma talked about four thematic areas: 1) House-to-House Hygiene Promotion Messaging, 2) Distribution of Hygiene Promotion Kits, 3) Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) Survey, and 4) Volunteer Temperature Testing..

Mr. Koroma, speaking at the Ministry of Public Works, disclosed that the kits will contain a standard measuring cup for chlorine, a proper hand washing guide, gloves and instructions for the proper use of all items.

“On the KAP survey, residents in the targeted communities will be trained to ask questions on the practices carried out in the various homes on hygiene and what they know about the virus and its prevention among others”, Mr. Koroma, stated.

George Yarngo, Assistant Public Works Minister for Community Services, , who officially launched the Strategy in Virginia, West Point and Fiamah, pointed out that government can only be successful in the fight against the Ebola virus through a community – based approach. Assistant Minister Yarngo stated this as a primary reason why the “WASH Ebola Away Strategy” will always involve community residents in its overall operations, “because it is the community residents that will best explain to others on how they all can better prevent and control the spread of the virus.”

Assistant Minister Yarngo also highlighted that transparency and accountability will be the goal of “WASH Ebola Away Strategy” and expressed disapproval of those individuals engaged in the sale of anti-Ebola materials that are intended to save lives.

“The act of selling anti-Ebola materials is the greatest human rights crime against humanity, especially those items intended for the outbreak and called for stringent punishment to be taken against people that will be caught”, he stressed.

Minister Yarngo, on behalf of the WASH Ebola Away Strategy, also extended the group’s sincere thanks and appreciation to Living Water International (LWI) for providing much needed sanitary materials to help the Liberian Government in its fight against the virus. LWI provided each community with 50 rubber buckets and sanitary materials.

Meanwhile, residents of the various communities, including a prominent politician Dr. Togbah Nah Tipoteh and another Liberian, William Dennis, lauded members the National WASH Promotion Committee and LWI for the initiative, which they described as “timely.”

The WASH Ebola Away Strategy was recently launched by Vice President Joseph Boakai and focuses on four thematic areas.

The project is expected to be strongly supported and carried out in Lofa, Bong and Nimba Counties by Global Communities, an American based NGO.

Global Communities is presently carrying out Ebola education and response activity planning against the deadly outbreak under the USAID/OFDA-funded ALERT Program.

As part of its support to the Liberian Government, Global Communities has also established burial teams in counties throughout Liberia in partnership with County Health Teams.

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