MONROVIA, December 10, 2016 --- Today Mercy Corps Liberia and its 23 NGO partners wrapped up a national workshop that brought together representatives from across the ECAP consortium, which is funded by USAID.
At the workshop, partners from all counties agreed to step up efforts to engage communities to fight some of the leading causes of diseases and ill health, including in some of Liberia’s most remote rural areas, and ensure sustained vigilance against Ebola.
To date, the ECAP network has activated over 800 Community Health Committees which will link communities to clinics and health programs, and champion good health and hygiene practices that reduce risks of diseases, especially Ebola.
“The Ebola epidemic was defeated in large part because communities took direct ownership of the response, and we believe that this will also be critical to beating other major diseases that hurt the Liberian people,” said Pate K. Chon, Executive Director of SHALOM Inc. and Spokesperson for the ECAP network.
“Local NGOs and radio stations played a pivotal role in fighting Ebola and now they are leading the recovery. Helping communities take charge of their health is what ECAP is all about, as we push for healthy communities and a healthy life in Liberia,” she added.
While Liberia is once again counting down the days to being declared free of Ebola transmission by the World Health Organization, the most recent cases shows that the recurrence of the virus remains possible, and ongoing vigilance will be necessary to protect against larger outbreaks.
“It now seems that people will need to be alert to the possibility of Ebola recurring in the months ahead,” said Catherine Brown, ECAP Program Director at Mercy Corps. “Together we aim to ensure that an outbreak can never again have the same devastating impact as the Ebola crisis that struck Liberia in 2014, which means communities need to stay prepared and be able to detect and respond to suspected cases as soon as they occur.”
Through a network of local organisations and radio stations, ECAP 2 aims to train and support communities to prepare for and respond to outbreaks, including through the mobilization of Community Health Committees (CHCs), and promote healthy behavior change, such as sanitation activities, use of clinics, and uptake of vaccinations.
The platform builds on the tremendous successes of the first ECAP program which reached 3,000 communities with messages on Ebola, through a vast network of over 15,000 community campaigners. ECAP 2 is working with 23 NGOs and 29 community radio stations.
Representatives of ECAP partners, Mercy Corps, PSI, IREX, USAID and the Ministry of Health attended the workshop that took place at the Corrina Hotel in Monrovia.