The Liberia Medical and Dental Association (LMDA) wishes to inform the press and general public that it is deeply concerned and particularly worried about the recent resurgence in the number of COVID-19 cases in Liberia with new variants being reported.We extend our sympathy to all those afflicted by this disease, and the grieving families of those who have lost their lives.
This 3rd wave of COVID-19 infections has demonstrated to be nothing like what we have seen over the past 18 months since Liberia reported its first case back in March, 2020. The current daily number of new infections, severity of cases and death rate are all alarming and unprecedented. The need for medical and other supplies including oxygen cylinders and delivery apparatus, medications, etc, remain a huge challenge at health facilities and is hampering the ability of clinicians to provide adequate care to COVID-19 patients. At the moment, Liberia is one of the countries reporting the highest number of new cases in the entire West Africa subregion. This is disheartening, and is now time that we as a nation put
together forces more than ever before to fight if we should stand a chance against this disease.
Being the umbrella institution of all medical doctors and dentistsin Liberia, LMDA remains a major stakeholder in the health sector of Liberia and therefore seeks to provide the following recommendations at this crucial moment having held consultative meetings with its members.
Starting with the general public, we recommend the following:
- That everyone MUST adhere to all safety measures recommended by the government of Liberia through the health authorities. These safety measures include but not limited to the mandatory wearing of nose masks in public, avoidance of crowded places, observance of social distancing, frequent hand washing, etc.
- That individuals experiencing respiratory symptoms present themselves
immediately for voluntary testing, and be willing to get isolated if they test positive. We also advise individuals within communities to report sick people who refuse to seek care at health centers, as doing so will help break the chain of transmission if those sick persons are infected with the virus. We are also noticing that patients are presenting very late at the treatment center especially at the point when there is little or nothing that can be done for them. We encourage people to
present themselves as early as possible when they feel unwell in order to access prompt intervention.
- That every eligible person must endeavor to get vaccinated. These vaccines are safe and are authorized by the requisite authoritiesfor use in humans. Although they do not guarantee full immunity, these vaccines are known to significantly reduce the risk of contracting the disease and also reduce the risk of having severe disease if one contracts the virus.
- That well-meaning Liberians, foreign nationals residing in Liberia and
development partners join the fight by providing whatever little support (whether supplies or cash) to the health sector to augment government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19. We have experienced the effective COVID-19 response is a very expensive initiative. Hence, it is time that we all mobilize resources to defeat this
To healthcare workers,
- We first appreciate your role and myriad sacrifices you make daily by working under the most derelict circumstances. To all of you our doctors, pharmacists, physician assistants, nurses, nurse aids, midwives, laboratory/X-ray technicians and support staff especially those working in the frontlines, thank you for all you do for humanity. During these difficult times in our nation, the general population look to you for direction and hope. We should all come forth and stand in unison to
fight this disease using our expertise and experiences.
- LMDA encourages all healthcare workersto observe universal precautions in regards to infection prevention and control (IPC), and to stay safe at all times as they discharge their professional duties. It is our responsibility to keep safe while serving.
- We encourage healthcare workers to take the lead and set precedence. We should all get vaccinated as we remain at higher risk of contracting the virus. We should help as well in spreading accurate health messages to the general public in order to dispel the propagating myths and conspiracy theories within the already gullible population.
To the government of Liberia,
- LMDA acknowledges with gratitude the support of GOL to the health sector especially during the first 2 waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Liberia. Those hard decisions you made including the nationwide lockdown even in the midst of harsh economic situations helped in curtailing the previous waves.
With how things are proceeding, LMDA hereby recommends the following
- That GOL MUST seek all the help it can get from all sources to invest hugely in the health sector during this critical moment. Such investment has to be immediate as the situation is rapidly worsening across the country.
- That GOLshould consider implementing animmediate nationwide lockdown in order to initiate massive contact tracing and arrest the rapid spread of the virus within the population as things are fast getting out of hand.
- That GOL through the Ministry of Health should consider opening additional isolation and treatment centers around the country immediately since the current available facilities are rapidly running out of capacity and supplies to accommodate the increasing number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases. We also recommend the isolation of all COVID-19 cases (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic) as was done during the first wave. Considering our context, taking
all cases from the community will help in breaking the chain of transmission faster.
- That GOL MUST ensure the protection of all healthcare workers by supplying all needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in all facilities at all times. Lack of PPEs will lead to increased infection amongst health workers which will cause panic and demotivation to others, thus undermining the entire fight against the disease.
- That GOL through the Ministry of Health should consider expanding and decentralizing testing facilities so as to shorten turn-around time of COVID-19 results. This will help in confirming diagnosis fast and isolating positive cases immediately. The government is encouraged to collaborate with the private sector if possible and ensure validation of resultsthrough the National Reference Lab.
- That GOL MUST become proactive and ensure sufficient supplies of vaccines to quickly vaccinate the population. While efforts are being made to seek help from international partners, the government must consider making significant investments to secure vaccines in a timely manner.
- That GOL through the Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute of Liberia consider recruiting the services of the appropriate experts during this health crisis. We as a nation cannot afford playing politics while the precious lives of our people are being lost on a daily basis. We must learn from previous experiences in order to improve the quality of our response this time around.
- The GOL through the health authorities MUST make deliberate efforts to improve community engagement as doing so will enhance compliance of community dwellers to the safety measures. Individuals with the right knowledge and expertise should be recruited to engage the communities though accurate information dissemination, contact tracing, among others.
- That GOL through MOH & NPHIL consider incorporating LMDA and other professional health bodies at the core of the response sincethese institutions remain major stakeholders in the health sector.
In the midst of the many challenges confronting the health sector, prevention is our only chance to defeat this common enemy. We MUST therefore do all we can to break the chain of transmission especially at the community level. We believe that the recommendations herein contained will assist in the fight against COVID-19 and therefore expect that they will be taken seriously.
LMDA remains committed to working with GOL through the health authorities to bring this crisis to an end in the soonest possible time.
May God bless us all and save us from this pandemic.
Signed: Dr. Moses Ziah, II
Assistant Secretary General, LMDA
Approved: Dr. Emmanuel K. Ekyinabah