Montserrado County, Liberia: The Government of Liberia has validated a five year National Strategic Plan (NSP 2021-2025) to help reduce illnesses and deaths associated with malaria spread in the country. The meeting to validate the national document was held for two days, 2-3 June, 2020 in the main conference room of the Sharks Business Center, Airfield, Monrovia.
Malaria disease is the number one cause of sickness and death in Liberia. While the entire population is at risk of malaria, children under five and pregnant women are the most affected, with rural communities having the highest prevalence compared to urban areas.
The new strategy provides a blueprint for malaria control in Liberia for the next five years, and builds on recommendations put forth in the Mid-Term Report (MTR) of the malaria NSP of 2016-2020 and the Global Technical Strategy (GTS) that include surveillance as a key intervention. The new malaria NSP 2021-2025 redefines the strategic direction and focus of the malaria program, including strengthening of structures, systems and capacities to achieve greater equity, coverage, quality and more effective delivery of the interventions for achievement of the overall goal of reduced burden of malaria in Liberia.
Speaking during the validation meeting, Mr. Oliver Pratt, Program Manager of the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) said the vision of the malaria program is a healthier Liberia with no malaria death; while the overall mission is to provide universal, coordinated, cost effective and evidence-based malaria interventions for the people of Liberia.
According to him, the goal of the NSP is to reduce malaria burden by 75% (11% overall prevalence) compared to 2016 (45% prevalence) by end of 2025.
The process of development and validation of the malaria NSP was a participatory and consultative country-led process with multi-sectoral stakeholders, including: government ministries and agencies, development partners, national and international implementing partners, the private sector, research/academia, local county authorities, faith-based institutions, civil society actors and community-based organizations. According to him, the plan was also reviewed and approved by senior management of the Ministry of Health.
Several developmental partners including the WHO, USAID and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria have reaffirmed their commitments to support the Government of Liberia aimed at reducing malaria burden in the country.
WHO-Liberia Disease Prevention and Control Cluster Coordinator, Dr. Moses Jeuronlon via Zoom (internet application for conference call) recommitted WHO’s support to Liberia. According to him, WHO is fully committed to the implementation of the national health response of Liberia including Malaria. However, he called on the National Malaria Control Program to adopt practical approach to achieving the goals of reducing malaria deaths especially for children under age 5. Dr. Jeuronlon recommended that it would be good for the program take practical steps when realized that one region is reporting high malaria cases during the implementation process. “If one county is reporting huge cases of malaria, the program needs to conduct quick evaluation to get facts of the underlining factors responsible in order to take prompt action aimed at addressing the challenge,” Dr. Jeuronlon maintained.
Also speaking, USIAD -Liberia Senior Malaria Advisor, Dr. Jessica Kafuko thanked the government of Liberia for drafting of such a plan to help end Malaria in the nation and reiterated USAID committed to Liberia. According to her, such a step taken by the government will help access to malaria health services and help curtail deaths associated with the disease in the country.
In a special remark, Liberia’s Assistant Minister for Curative Service, Dr. Gorbee Logan, who proxy onbehalf of Dr. Francis Keteh, Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, committed the government to working with partners and key stakeholders to ensure the new malaria NSP is implemented, while focusing on galvanizing political will nationally and globally, as well as implementing best global strategies suitable for Liberia and applying a coordinated country response to significantly reduce malaria to pre-elimination stage in Liberia.
He further thanked the leadership of the National Malaria Control Program for driving the process that led to the development and validation of the NSP despite the presence of COVID 19 in Liberia. “This is challenging time but you made it your duties to ensure Liberia can have a new strategic direction to reducing the spread of Malaria in the country. For this, I must thank you all,” He said.