Liberian National Ebola Survivor Secretariat Visits the Comprehensive Program for Ebola Survivors in Sierra Leone

April 10, 2017
The delegation with the Minister of Social Welfare.
Visit to MOHS
The delegation visits the MOHS CPES PIU.
Delegation at Port Loko district hospital
The delegation at the Port Loko District Hospital.

From April 3-7, 2017, six staff comprising the Liberian National Ebola Survivor Secretariat visited the Program Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Sierra Leone Comprehensive Program for Ebola Survivors (CPES) to exchange ideas and learn from each other’s policies and practices.

As part of the USAID-supported regional cooperation between the three countries most affected by the Ebola virus disease (EVD), the week-long visit provided an opportunity for the two teams to share country-specific plans and best practices in implementation of EVD survivor support programs; discuss similarities of challenges, identified solutions, and lessons learned from implementation; as well as agree upon regional priorities to institutionalize EVD survivor care advocacy activities and programs.

The Secretariat, a unit within the Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH), was established in January 2017. It consists of a national coordinator, a mental health and psychosocial support coordinator, a clinical care coordinator, a stigma reduction and discrimination coordinator, a capacity building advisor, and an empowerment focal point. The six-person team is tasked with maximizing equitable access to quality health care services, social protection services, and economic empowerment for EVD survivors.

The CPES PIU was established in mid-2016 through a joint cooperation between the two key Sierra Leonean Ministries providing support to EVD Survivors: the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs. CPES PIU has 5 key staff comprising of program managers (one for each health and social component), a policy adviser, a planning and operations coordinator, and a liaison officer with the Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors. The CPES PIU goal and objectives are to support and oversee the CPES implementation, ensure coordination between various stakeholders, develop an integrated M&E system, and develop a survivor care policy.

In March 2016, the Liberian MOH launched a policy for EVD survivor care and support, which identifies six priority areas for action: clinical care, psychosocial support, stigma reduction, education, legal support, and social protection. The Secretariat is expected to advocate, support, and manage the processes required to translate these priorities into action. In line with the Government of Liberia’s EVD Survivors Care and Support Strategic Plan, 2016-2020, the Secretariat will also facilitate and follow up on activities led by key agencies and stakeholders.

The Liberia Secretariat and CPES PIU are currently supported by the USAID-funded program "Ebola Transmission Prevention and Survivor Services", implemented by the Advancing Partners & Communities project, which contributes to three priority areas for improving access to care by EVD Survivors: increase access to specialty health services and provide psychosocial support, reduce stigma and discrimination, and prevent future Ebola transmission. To raise additional resources necessary to implement all priority areas, the Liberia Secretariat and CPES PIU are engaged in resource mobilization activities.

Since the EVD outbreak, the United States Government has worked in collaboration with country governments, international donors, and partners to provide emergency response as well as to restore basic services and strengthen health systems. These improvements help prepare countries to prevent, detect, and respond to future outbreaks.  As part of the post-Ebola recovery program, USAID supports regional partnerships that improve sharing of local knowledge and resources; and identify regionally tailored, more sustainable solutions to health care challenges.