Feasibility of VAT reduction to be assessed by IMF

first_imgA team comprising experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is due in Guyana next month to assess the Value Added Tax (VAT) and recommendations made by the Tax Reform Committee.This is according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who during an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) said, “notwithstanding what the Tax Reform Committee said, and notwithstanding the clamour for the reduction in VAT, I have asked the IMF and they have agreed and the team is to come in August to do an assessment of the Value Added Tax.”Minister Jordan said after they would have completed their assessment “we will take a look, and we will make a determination what reduction is feasible and when this reduction can take place.”The Tax Reform Committee, headed by Dr Maurice Odle, was set up late last year and mandated to examine the country’s taxation system and make recommendations for fixing it. Among the recommendations of the Tax Reform Committee were an income tax threshold of 0,000 with progressive rates of taxation from 20 per cent to 35 per cent, reintroduction of estate duties and levies on tobacco and alcohol. Further, the Minister said the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been approached for its input on the recommended tax reforms.“What I have caused GRA to do is to go through the report with a fine tooth comb, split it up into the various sections and come up with recommendations of the feasibility of some of what have been recommended so that we could have a discussion in Cabinet and make a determination, whether or not they get into the 2017 budget. The Tax Reform Committee did recommendations that span two years… not just 2017.”Among the recommendations of the Tax Reform Committee were a reduction of VAT from 16 per cent to 14 per cent, the introduction of an intermediate rate of seven per cent, a reduction of the number of items on the VAT exempt list and a widening of the tax net by reducing the minimum taxable amount from million to million, Minister Jordan said.Meanwhile President David Granger on an edition of the programme “the Public’s Interest” had said it was perhaps hasty on the part of the then Opposition (APNU+AFC) to promise a reduction on the VAT rate during their first year in office when they had inadequate information on what they would find when they assumed office.last_img read more

Illegal Venezuelans terrorising Guyana’s Indigenous peoples – President

first_imgWhile Guyana holds steadfast to commitments to accept Venezuelans wanting to move from their crisis-ridden country on humanitarian grounds, Government has raised concerns of Guyanese being “assaulted” by persons from the neighbouring country.Speaking on the weekly televised programme – The Public Interest – which aired on Friday, President David Granger pointed out that migration is currently a “ticklish” problem, especially in light of the events in Venezuela.President David GrangerThe President said he does not want to have people who are guilty of any wrong doing or involved in terrorism coming into Guyana, as he highlighted the troubles already existing at the border with the Spanish-speaking State.“There are groups called “syndactylous”, which simply means gang or syndicates, which have been terrorising some of our indigenous people in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni Region, particularly in the Wenamu and Cuyuni areas. So we have to be very careful,” he remarked.The Head of State noted that while Guyana is willing and prepared to accept people from Venezuela, or of any nationality in general on humanitarian grounds, the protection of Guyanese citizens comes first.“Re-migrants who are fleeing economic or political persecution and who are prepared to abide by our laws, we are prepared to give favourable consideration. We are not simply going to open our borders to a flood of re-migrants – people who are casually drifting in and out. But if there is evidence of political persecution or economic deprivation we are prepared to give favourable consideration to this,” President Granger posited.The Head of State concerns come in light of recent attacks on Guyanese citizenry. Earlier in July, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips, had confirmed that the army is working along with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to investigate reports of a Venezuelan gang attacking Guyanese in the Arau and Mango Landing areas, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), along the Wenamu River in the Cuyuni Mining District and close to the Venezuelan border.Meanwhile, in May 2016, Venezuelan soldiers opened fire at a vessel that was transporting mines officers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in Guyanese waters. According to reports, about 19:20h May 30, 2016, a chartered boat was ferrying three GGMC officers from Arau located in the Essequibo Region, when they came under fire from the Venezuelan military.No one was injured in the attack which occurred one mile from the Eteringbang Police Station. It was reported that the captain of the boat was known to the neighbouring army and it was after he identified himself to the officers that they were allowed to proceed freely.Venezuela is experiencing economic turmoil following the decline of oil prices on the world market over the past months. The situation had escalated to the point where President Nicolas Maduro had declared a 60-day state of emergency in May.Reports out of the Bolivarian State reveal that there is massive food shortage and limited access to basic health care and basic amenities such as electricity. Reports of rampant outbursts of looting and violence are also emerging from the neighbouring country.With the situation in Venezuela deteriorating rapidly with no evidence of a turn-around, it was predicted that there will be a refugee crisis in the region, as persons from that country are likely to flee to neighbouring nations.The Guyana Government had posited that it will accept Venezuelans coming here in search of better lives but maintained that they should not do so illegally. (Vahnu Manickchand)last_img read more

President to swear in members after finalisation of terms, conditions

first_imgPublic Procurement CommissionPresident David Granger is awaiting the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to finalise the remuneration packages, Terms of Reference and other administrative arrangements before swearing in the members of the much-anticipated Public Procurement Commission (PPC).This is according to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who explained during the post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday that the work of the PAC was preliminary to the appointment of the members. He noted that before the members of the PPC are sworn in, the PAC needed to finalise certain terms and conditions.“As soon as the Public Accounts Committee sits, there are some proposals which will go before it in so far as salaries and things like that. The law requires the Chairman of the (Public Procurement) Commission is a full-time employee of that commission, which means that those persons who are named – one of them will be a chairman and another will be a vice chairman, and if they are working somewhere else, one of those persons will have to leave their job,” the Minister of State outlined.Harmon continued, “So, if you are working somewhere and going for another job, at least you must know what the salary you will be getting before you leave your job, and so it is some of these terms and conditions that have to be settled by the Public Accounts Committee.”At the end of July 2016, the PAC agreed on the nominees for the PPC, and that list was subsequently approved by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly on August 8.The approved members include Attorney Emily Dodson, Carol Corbin, University of Guyana lecturer Sukrishnalall Pasha, educator Ivor English and former Labour Minister Nanda Gopaul.This list was subsequently sent to the Head of State for the members to be sworn in, but this is yet to be done, as Government is awaiting the finalisation of the terms and conditions for the Commission.However, PAC Chairman, Opposition parliamentarian Irfaan Ali recently pointed out that the President could go ahead with swearing in the members of the Procurement Commission, as he did not have to necessarily wait for the Committee to finish its work on the PPC.Nevertheless, Ali assured that the PAC, “after the Parliament comes out of recess, would be moving to have this issue as a priority on its agenda in setting out the administrative mechanism to support the work of the Public Procurement Commission, so there is nothing that is stopping the President from swearing in the members of the Public Procurement Commission”.Meanwhile, Harmon said on Thursday that Government was also supportive of fast-tracking the process at the level of the Parliamentary Committee.“We will like that to be a top priority as well, and we will give that our full support to ensure that it is fast tracked,” he stated.On the other hand, the Minister of State outlined that once the PPC was set up, it would pave the way for the establishment of the Public Procurement Tribunal – a process which the Commission would need to have a say in. “The Public Procurement Commission has a role in the selecting of that tribunal – one has to be set up before the other so that the one that is set up before can have a say in the setting up of the other. So, we got to get the Public Procurement Commission up and running and then the Tribunal will be set up,” he explained. The issue of establishing the PPC predated the holding of the General and Regional Elections in May 2015, as the then Opposition had insisted that Cabinet should cease the practice of giving its ‘no objection’ to contracts for State projects and services, in favour of the PPC.last_img read more

Who Will Take Your Ebola Patient$ ?

first_imgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img

Young Entrepreneur to Contest 2017 Tappita Rep. Seat

first_imgA Liberian entrepreneur in Tappita, Lower Nimba County, has said he has adequately prepared himself to contest the 2017 representative seat for the County Electoral District #9 currently being occupied by Rep. Ricks Toweh. Rep. Toweh was elected to the post during the general and presidential elections in 2011 on the ticket of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP).In an interview with this newspaper yesterday when Mr. Josephus Menwoe Paye, Sr., walked into our McDonald Street office in Monrovia, he has said he had gained the support of the business community as well as the youth population of the district and many other organizations including the ones headed by elders and women.“I am being motivated to contest the seat come 2017 because I have the political will to deliver the people of Tappita, who over the years have been denied their rightful place with respect to achieving the needed development,” Mr. Paye stated. He said he will not only contest for the seat, but will win and lead the people by introducing important bills in the National Legislature for the benefit of the people.Mr. Paye, now in his 40s, graduated from the St. Martin’s High School in Gbarnga, Bong County, in 1992. He subsequently returned to Nimba where he says he has been contributing meaningfully to the development of Lower Nimba County, particularly in Tappita City. He has worked with various organizations including serving as district field officer for Nimba Women’s Development Association (NIWODA), a local NGO, which implemented a micro-finance project for the American Refugee Committee (ARC). He has worked as a social advocate, a volunteer community worker, and a business-minded person since 1993, says Paye. He is the proprietor and chief executive officer of the Yeawoe Trading Center, an entity that operates a 13-bedroom City View Motel and the TapAqua Mineral Water, two of the leading businesses in the district.Mr. Paye said his decision to run stems from his desire to see Tappita District transformed through politics, which will require the bottom to the top approach in decision-making that affects the lives of the people positively.Transformation, he believes, has to do with changing social habits that negatively affect the residents, providing opportunities for pursuing and achieving academic excellence, vocational and professional training that will give the residents access to employment opportunities and upholding values that promote unity in diversity.Mr. Paye also promises economic transformation by which he would explore the private and public sectors to encourage involvement in agro-industries because of the vast forest land with which the district is endowed.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Prez Sirleaf Extols Diplomatic Corps for ‘Unprecedented Show of Unity’

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has extolled members of foreign missions accredited near Monrovia for an “unprecedented show of unity” at Liberia’s 168th Independence Day celebration in Greenville, Sinoe County.According to a Foreign Ministry release, the President also took the time to thank and praise bilateral and multilateral partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), other UN Agencies, World Bank Group (WB), European Union (EU), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Foundations and individuals, for “unprecedented show of solidarity,” during the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) crisis in Liberia. She especially applauded the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU), for mobilizing what she called unprecedented private sector supports including the recruitment of 339 African professionals from 16 African countries to make the sacrifice to leave their countries and families to join Liberia in the fight.As of Liberia’s relations with other nations, she stated that her government is pleased to note that bilateral relations with governments’ representatives near Monrovia have been most cordial. Moreover, the president added; “Today they are here in an unprecedented show of unity. I have never been at an event, not even in the capital, where all our representatives have come together in one body.”She observed that the show of unity from members of the Diplomatic Corps especially at the country’s 168th independence observance is a “special gift that the diplomats had taken to the people of Sinoe and Grand Kru counties.” Grand Kru co-hosted the 168th Independence Day events.The President stated that Liberians had once again gathered in the spirit of unity “in unprecedented representation at all levels and all persuasions in our society. We have come to demonstrate patriotism in recognition of the long road of definitive and quantifiable progress.”President Sirleaf urged all Liberians to go out touching each other, adding: “say a good thing to someone today; say a good thing for your country today.”For his part, Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan mentioned the names of at least 32 presidents and heads of government as well as heads of some international organizations that sent messages of congratulations and felicitations to President Sirleaf on the nation’s 168th Independence Day. He also thanked and praised 13 members of the Diplomatic Corps, who had travelled deep in the jungle to Grand Kru to form part of the historic event. “Most of them,” he said “are accredited to Liberia and not Monrovia alone. As such, they decided to come to the interior.”According to the Minister, representatives of foreign governments had gone to that far end of Liberia in order “to see, to hear and then to act later”.Members of the Diplomatic Corps were led to the Independence Day events in both Sinoe and Grand Kru counties by Guinean Ambassador Abdullah Doré, who is the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps.At the formal program held in the J. Dominic Bing City Hall in Greenville, Sinoe County, Ambassador Doré congratulated President Sirleaf on behalf of himself and his colleagues as the nation celebrated its 168th anniversary. He cautioned Liberians not to talk about Ebola again as the nation has been successful in defeating the deadly virus. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Children’s Use of the Internet in Liberia: Why We Should be Concerned

first_imgIn Liberia, and the world over, many parents do not pay attention to their children’s access and use of the Internet; whether it is via their phone or on a computer. A lot of parents in Liberia are not cognizant of the fact that their children have social network (Facebook) accounts which they use for inappropriate activities. They (parents) also are not aware of the possibility of their children/teens being enticed (both men and women) into inappropriate activities (soliciting sex online) on the Internet. In my opinion, this may be the result of illiteracy, the lack of computer or internet knowledge, or the fact there has not been a reported case involving child abuse on the internet in Liberia. But if there has not been one, should we wait for one to occur before we act? Is it not time that we develop and enforce policies that protect our children while they are online? For the past decade, Liberia has made progress in the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The creation of a national regulator (LiberiaTelecommunications Authority); a liberal market; the advent of mobile operators; the development of a national ICT policy; an e-government strategy; Universal Access Program with its policy directives; connection to the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) optical Fiber Cable; the development of a national web portal; and most recently, the installation and dedication of the internet exchange point. These are just a few of the developments in the ICT sector that have occurred in the past ten (10) years. The result of all the achievements that I have just mentioned is increased access to telecommunications and the Internet. The latter is the crux of today’s article. No doubt the expansion of the Internet and its accompanying technologies has brought both increased efficiency and new methods of communication. However, the Internet also makes it easier for bad actors to offend others. One form of online is online child abuse. Children and teenagers constitute a large portion of Internet. Indeed, children are exposed to the Internet at the very young ages. The increasing number of teens who are online emphasizes the need to educate children about how to navigate the online world in a safe and moral manner. The Internet can be an exciting place for children and teenagers because they are able to adopt different identities and interact away from adult supervision. Yet this same autonomy also makes the Internet dangerous. Just as teenagers can create personas that are different from their real world identity, so too can sexual predators, other cyber-criminals, molesters, abusers, et al. In Liberia, and perhaps other parts of the world, people take advantage of children and teens over the Internet. Many adults sign up for accounts on Facebook and other social networks to gain access to teens who they can “mesmerize” or tempt with a few dollars or other material things to get them in bed. Oftentimes, the parents are totally oblivious to this. It is no secret that our authorities (Ministry of Gender and the Liberia National Police) lack the capacity to down on these inappropriate online activities, hence, they endure. The result of this inability to arrest these inappropriate online activities is increased prostitution, increased teen pregnancy, but worst of all an irreversible destruction of the future of this country. We may all differ over the over the question of whether the risk of harm to children from the Internet comes from people or from the technology itself. Yet in the context of protecting children from exposure to potentially disturbing, harmful and age inappropriate materials, it may, in fact, be necessary to see the Internet itself as posing a risk to children. The extraordinary opportunities offered by the Internet for enhancing our lives do not come without risks. Although materials that may be unsuitable for children may constitute, relative to information that is useful, educational and entertaining, a small percentage of overall Internet-accessible content, the ease with which children may stumble across disturbing, harmful and age inappropriate materials are too disturbing and real to ignore. The constitutional obligation to act in the best interests of the child imposes a duty on Government, the Liberian ICT sector and civil society to develop mechanisms to protect children from exposure to materials which pose a risk of harm to their emotional and psychological well-being.When I discuss risk in this article, I am not only referring to materials which may be illegal, such as child pornography, but also from materials which are legal but intended for adults. A child using the Internet for useful information can be drawn or strong-armed into viewing unsuitable and illegal materials by being directed to sites containing harmful materials, or through “pop-ups” and “mouse trapping”. While we must be concerned with the representation of children in pornography (child pornography), which involves the abuse and sexual exploitation of children, we should also be concerned about their exposure to solicitation of sex by adults, sexually-explicit materials, online sale of drugs and the consequential harm to their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Note that the fact that the Internet itself poses a risk of harm to children is not intended to suggest that the Internet should be “banned” for children. It is an opinion intended to highlight the need to ensure that children’s use of the Internet is regulated to minimize risks to their well-being. But be that as it may, we should continue to pressure our authorities to develop and put in place the regulatory, social and economic frameworks that will shape future contexts and consequences of Internet use by children in Liberia. Ostensibly the Internet has become an increasingly indispensable source of information, eventually replacing traditional libraries in schools; more and more children will be exposed to risk of exposure to objectionable materials. In addition, the ensuing decade or so, will see the internet taken for granted within our homes, meaningfully embedded in the routines of children’s daily lives. How the technology – and its economic, political and cultural dimensions – will have changed, and in what ways the Internet is judged beneficial or harmful, remains to be seen.Finally, parents go through a lot to raise their children to be good citizens and to live a good life. To see all this effort go to waste because of the perverted behavior of an adult who simply cares about his/her selfish desire is just disheartening. It is for this reason, we MUST now begin to develop policies that will be enforced for the protection of the future of Liberia. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘First Vote of Confidence after Ebola’

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that the latest economic and social investment of the ever present Coca-Cola Bottling Company in the country is the first vote of confidence after the eradication of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) from Liberia.President Sirleaf said the company was just one of the few that operated in the country throughout the crisis. “Therefore a huge investment of US$5.7 million in economic and social initiatives is a true testament that things are back on track for business and investment. This clearly speaks that the country is ready and safe for investment. This encourages those who left as a result of the virus to return and continue their investment,” she said.Coca-Cola has made the investment in its PET (plastic) bottling line, a new science and technology school and the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s five new Water Health Centers aimed at providing safe water access to over 61,000 Liberians.The President spoke at the official dedication ceremonies of these investments recently at the company’s operation site in Paynesville. According to her, she has always craved for Coca-Cola to make Liberia a hub for its operations in the Mano River and West African region – a move that is gradually coming to reality.She said it is now time for Liberians and other investors to think outside the box as the country currently undergoes a difficult time in regards to its traditional exports. The country’s economy is truly going through difficult times as many exports, such as rubber and iron ore, face depression globally.With the decline, President Sirleaf said Liberia must find other initiatives to be able to promote businesses to create these exports and the means whereby the gaps that now exist because of the global economic crisis can be filled by expansion into other areas.President Sirleaf indicated that though the environment has to be created by government policies and practices, it also has to be created by every Liberian who wants to see jobs, see businesses expand and wants to see where we, like neighboring countries, can export to other places.“The challenge is to every Liberian to make sure that what they do, how they act, how they support, how they join in creating this environment will enable us to achieve our development objectives,” she said.She noted that though there have been periods of interruption and contraction in Liberia, the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, like Firestone Liberia, has remained with Liberia despite these difficulties.She further urged the Coca-Cola Company to bring in a juice manufacturing plant that will produce juices made in Liberia for domestic consumption and possible export to other countries. “All these years for Liberia not to have a juice producing plant is totally unacceptable,” she said, adding that “now is the time to create a plant for the production of juices for us, too.”Coca-Cola Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Alex Cummings said, “Liberia may have been fractured by the tragedy of Ebola over the last year, but its spirit of optimism, ambition and progress will never be broken.”He pointed out that Coca-Cola has been ever-present in Liberia for over 65 years and its commitment to investing in economic and social initiatives remains as strong as ever as they increase their contribution to support sustainable growth of both their business and the communities they serve.The Coca-Cola Bottling Company’s first PET bottling line begins production at its Monrovia facility this month. It will also serve as a regional export hub for Sierra Leone and Guinea. An estimated 7,500 direct and indirect employment opportunities will be created over the next five years across Coca-Cola’s locally sourced supply-chain of distributors, retailers and material suppliers.Meanwhile, President Sirleaf used the occasion to warn Liberians against destructive tendencies that are gradually taking over the country. She said this trend has the propensity to scare investment from the country. “It will not work if people are going to destroy businesses. It’s not going to work with placards all over the place. It’s not going to work unless businesses know and have confidence in our policies, laws and in the way we do things,” she cautioned.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

St. Francis VR Center Shut Down

first_imgThe voter registration (VR) center at the student palaver hut on the campus of the St. Francis High School in Jacob Town, Paynesville, has been closed since last Saturday, February 11, when an officer of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) reportedly disrupted voter registration at the center. In the riot that ensued, a worker of the National Elections Commission (NEC) reportedly lost her personal belongings including a camera.Ms. Amelia Mavash, a NEC assigned staff at the center, told the Daily Observer that a man, who only identified himself as a LDEA officer, demanded that NEC staff register a handful of unidentified persons he brought to the center without questioning them on their eligibility to vote in Liberia.According to the NEC staffers, this happened while they were ‘very carefully’ trying to interrogate and ascertain the proper identities of the people the ‘LDEA officer’ wanted registered. “The man expressed his frustration on the grounds that we were particularly critical on certain groups of people, while questioning them to at least authenticate their true citizenship,” Mavash said.She explained that the LDEA officer blocked an interview that was being conducted with one man suspected of not being a Liberian citizen.“We were asking our questions so that the fellow in the queue could give us the right information about his citizenship and residency in Montserrado County District #2, when the LDEA man interrupted by shouting that NEC staffers are not allowed to ask too many questions when an individual comes to register,” said Ms. Mavash.Shortly following the altercation, the ‘LDEA officer,’ she said, “demanded that we register the people he queued, but we refused on grounds that none of them had presented a clear picture of their citizenship.” While this fuss was about to intensify, an immigration officer suspected that one of the fellows who attempted to register needed better screening, so the immigration officer ordered him out of the line to face further questioning. This action did not go down well with the ‘LDEA officer,’ who violently prevented the person from getting out of the queue.In the melee that ensued, some VR observers representing the Unity Party also joined the LDEA officer to disrupt the process, resulting in a free-for-all fight that ended the entire process in chaos.“My personal camera was destroyed and we nearly lost NEC’s VR equipment in the process,” Mavash claimed.The NEC staffers sought refuge that day in a tiny room at St. Francis High School in an attempt to safeguard themselves, as well as the VR documents and equipment.When contacted via telephone, the principal of the school, Winston Toe, said the VR process will not continue at his school if NEC cannot provide adequate security for the location and its personnel.“We too are afraid that the situation here may become chaotic one day if the right security measures are not put in place to curtail the improprieties,” Mr. Toe said.He described District #2 as “highly polarized with pockets of people who are divided either on tribal or religious lines,” and as such, he said, “not too many of the residents think before they act.”All efforts to contact the accused LDEA officer, the Immigration officer as well as the UP observers, did not materialize as they had all left the scene by the time reporters got there. No contact information was provided for them. But the DEA’s Public Information officer James Kpadeh told the Daily Observer via mobile phone that officers assigned at the VR centers, including agents of the LDEA, were there to coordinate joint security operations.“We are aware of our officers being assigned at the VR centers to monitor, but not interfere with or disrupt the process,” Kpadeh told the Daily Observer. Saturday’s incident at the St. Francis VR center was the second following another tussle that erupted nearly two weeks ago, which was handled by officers of the Liberia National Police.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Health Professional Wants Scientific Research Prioritized

first_imgThe Deputy Director General for Technical Services at the National Health Institute of Liberia, Mosoka Fallah, says there is an urgent need for the government and its partners to invest in scientific research to prepare medical practitioners for tackling the outbreak of infectious diseases.Dr. Fallah raised the concern in his speech last Friday at an occasion marking the end of a week-long training organized by the Joint West Africa Research Group (JWARG) for health practitioners.He, however, acknowledged the efforts government and its partners have made thus far to improve the health sector, but stressed the need for government to focus on research that aims at preparing the country’s health sector for future outbreaks.Dr. Fallah, who also recalled experiences from the Ebola outbreak in 2014, observed that if the government had focused on medical research, the devastating Ebola virus disease (EVD) would not have killed a lot of people including doctors and nurses in the country.He praised the training and said such an idea is one helpful tool to use while attempting to address challenges the health sector is faced with.Fallah maintained that investment in a long-term program like scientific research will adequately prepare health practitioners at all times to fight any outbreak.“To our partners, you are doing well, but it is about time we start thinking about investing in a long-term goal that has to do with scientific research,” Dr. Fallah said.United States Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder told the participants to respect the medical profession in order to demonstrate to the public that what they have learnt from the training was important, and that they will use it to teach their colleagues who were not part of the training.She underscored the importance of the JWARG seminar, which she said will help the participants to examine best practices by identifying and managing infectious diseases.“Your commitment to this training reminds us that you are serious, for the quest to improve the country’s healthcare has no borders,” Amb. Elder said.“This seminar confirms the value of reaching beyond individual borders and leveraging the community of healthcare professionals across West Africa to combat the spread of infectious diseases. Each of you brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that can enrich and inspire your colleagues,” she told the participants.The US Envoy added that the success of the program clearly demonstrates that Liberia can take a leadership role in addressing regional health challenges in the future.The JWARG clinical course highlights tropical and emerging infectious diseases for clinicians and laboratory technicians. The aim is to provide beneficiaries with the needed skills that will enhance research capability in West Africa.Participants learnt about specific diseases including Ebola, Lassa fever, malaria, typhoid fever and HIV/AIDS.Additionally, participants received lectures on clinical responses to threats of infectious disease, including diagnostics, prevention, treatment and ethics. Participants came from Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria.The training followed the establishment of Liberia’s first clinical microbiology lab at the Phebe Hospital in 2016 to manage infectious diseases.The JWARG supported this venture, and it is expected to enhance the capabilities of West African physicians, scientists and institutions to conduct clinical research, build and strengthen research capacities, provide effective surveillance mechanism, develop countermeasures and broaden understanding of relevant infectious disease threats.The group is a collaborative initiative launched in 2015 between military, academic and non-profit organizations to leverage existing research platforms and relationships to improve bio preparedness in the region.JWARG partners include the Austere Environment Consortium for Enhanced Sepsis Outcomes (ACESO) at the Naval Medical Research Center, U.S., Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Walter Reed Program-Nigeria and Naval Medical Research Unit 3-Ghana Detachment.Others are the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), the Sabeti lab at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, the Henry Jackson Foundation (HJF), and other military, government and academic institutions.Institutions partnering with JWARG in Liberia include the Liberia Biomedical Research (LIBR) of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), and Phebe Hospital.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more