May 19, 2017
Readout of Secretary Price’s Visit to Liberia
On Wednesday, May 17th, and Thursday, May 18th, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., traveled to Liberia as the first stop in a three-nation tour to highlight the United States’ role in and commitment to global health security.
During his time in Liberia, Secretary Price met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—as well as Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai, Minister of Health Dr. Bernice Dahn and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marjon Kamara—to discuss the partnership formed between Liberia and the United States to strengthen capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to potential health emergencies. Along with a delegation that included representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Liberia and HHS components, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—including U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder and Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat—Secretary Price visited several sites in and around the capital city of Monrovia.
In West Point—a community at the epicenter of Liberia’s 2014 Ebola outbreak—Secretary Price toured a health clinic and met with an Ebola survivor who shared his story of seeking treatment and the certificate he received upon being declared Ebola-free. At Redemption Hospital, the Secretary toured the facility and received a briefing on NIH’s Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccines in Liberia (PREVAIL) program, a multi-stage research effort that includes vaccine trials and follow-up screening of Ebola survivors to gather greater clinical knowledge of Ebola, help prevent future outbreaks, and deliver counseling to survivors.
During a visit to an emergency operations center, Secretary Price was briefed by Department of Defense personnel, as well as representatives from USAID and the Peace Corps, about the different approaches being taken to help build up Liberia’s capacity to address the multiple health challenges facing its citizens—examples of which were shared during a briefing on the Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) and epidemiology surveillance efforts provided through direct CDC support. Secretary Price launched the intermediate-level FETP, and also attended a regular meeting of the country’s Incident Management Team, currently investigating an outbreak of meningococcal disease.
On Thursday afternoon, Secretary Price took a tour of ELWA (Eternal Love Winning Africa) Hospital—part of ELWA Ministries—which was one of the facilities at the forefront of treating patients with Ebola and other infectious diseases and also provides general medical care to the local communities.
Following his visit to ELWA, Secretary Price ended his time in Liberia by laying a wreath on the grave of an unknown Ebola victim—one of several thousand casualties of Ebola and other infectious diseases who are interred at the Disco Hill burial site.
Ebola survivors who met with the Secretary described the significant stigma associated with the virus and the continuing discrimination they face. Secretary Price shook hands with survivors, an important public gesture.
Secretary Price’s visit to Liberia comes in advance of his participation in the G20 Health Ministers Meeting in Berlin and the 70th annual meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.