ATLANTA June 17, 2020: As COVID-19 continues to spread in Liberia, The Carter Center has answered the request of the government to assist with prevention efforts and mental health support.
The Center is working with the National Incident Management System; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection; Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ministry of Justice; the National Council of Chiefs and Elders; and civil society partners to raise awareness about COVID-19 prevention measures and to ensure that information about COVID-19 reaches all persons. The Center will facilitate dissemination of the Ministry of Health messages through local partners.
The Center’s Mental Health Program supports the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support pillar of Liberia’s national COVID-19 response. It provides technical support to social workers and mental health clinicians in outbreak counties, including clinicians specializing in child and adolescent mental health, and underwrites mental health training within the context of COVID-19 for clinicians and social workers in all 15 counties in collaboration with government and U.N. partners.
It also has helped train 100 contact tracers with WHO-approved methods and, along with other partners, conducted a rapid assessment of the COVID-19 treatment and observation centers in Montserrado County, aiding efforts to identify the needs of people in isolation as well as gaps in mental health service delivery. Importantly, the Center is working with the national mental health services user organization Cultivation for Users Hope to provide continuous mental health support to persons living with mental illnesses across the country and to highlight their needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Rule of Law Program is helping to distribute messages through its network of traditional leaders and town criers, as well as community radio. Additionally, because the pandemic and “Stay at Home” orders have exacerbated domestic violence, the program and its partners will work to spread awareness on domestic violence as a crime and citizens’ rights and remedies and continue to support meaningful access to justice for victims.
The Center’s Democracy Program is supporting its partner, the Liberia Election Observation Network (LEON), as it responds to a request from the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia to assess citizens’ opinions and knowledge about COVID-19.
In late May and early June, LEON surveyed 2,250 people throughout the country and conducted 11 focus groups. Findings have been shared with the Ministry of Health and released in a public report to inform messaging to combat further spread of the disease.
LEON has also been monitoring social media for rumors and misinformation as well as monitoring how the state of emergency is affecting people around the country. LEON’s research has identified important findings, including concerns about COVID-19 testing, a lack of information on how – beyond handwashing – to prevent the spread of the disease, concern about the impact of the state of emergency and curfew on local economies, and an increase in domestic violence.
The Carter Center has been a partner with Liberia since 1997 and has worked with Liberians on a range of challenges, including Ebola. It is honored to once again work with key Liberian government and civil society partners to assure the health and well-being of all. With support from our development partners, including the government of Sweden and the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Center stands ready to support ongoing COVID-19 efforts.
For more information about the work of The Carter Center in Liberia, please follow our new Facebook page (facebook.com/CarterCenterLiberia).