Jan. 13, 2006
Greensboro (Jan. 13, 2006): The Liberian History, Education, & Development, Inc. (LIHEDE) is gratified by unfolding events in Liberia regarding the historic inauguration next Monday, January 16, of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the first female president of Liberia and the first female head of state in modern Africa.
LIHEDE sees the election and inauguration of a woman president in Liberia as a great milestone in Liberian political consciousness and a reaffirmation of Liberia’s unique role as a pacesetter in African political maturity and self-governance after having emerged as the first independent black republic in Africa as far back as 1847.
LIHEDE is equally gratified by the decision of the U.S. government to fully engage in ongoing national and international efforts aimed at promoting, peace, unity, reconstruction, democracy, and stability in Liberia, as manifested by the high-powered American delegation of U.S. First Lady, Mrs. Laura Bush, and U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice to the pending inauguration of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the 23rd president of Liberia.
The visit to Liberia of the American First Lady and Secretary of State at this crucial junction of the nation’s political transformation in inaugurating the first female president of Liberia points to the dawn of a new day in Liberian-American relations and a new day in social, economic, and political transformations in Liberia.
However, in order to fully appreciate these transformations and contribute meaningfully to the reconstruction of Liberia, the people of Liberia must begin to enjoy a healthy environment that is free of malaria and other deadly but curable diseases. But should malaria continue to kill nearly 4,500 Liberian children each year as millions of dollars in scare resources are spent on buying malaria tablets, mosquito sprays, mosquito coils, and other less effective malaria treatment options, then malaria would continue to remain a serious national security threat in Liberia that undermines the ongoing social and political transformations of the country.
LIHEDE, therefore, wishes to appeal to the American First Lady and Secretary of State, the incoming Liberian chief executive, and friends of Liberia to provide whatever assistance they can in combating and eradicating malaria in Liberia. The present and future generations of Liberian children deserve the chance to grow up into productive citizens and assume the mantle of leadership in Liberia, so every effort must be made to ensure that these children do not become the next victims of malaria.
Accordingly, in mid 2005, LIHEDE hosted a symposium in the U.S. on “Combating Malaria in Post Conflict Liberia,” which brought together Liberian and non-Liberian health professionals to discuss and make recommendation on how best to eradicate the malaria pandemic in Liberia. The symposium participants resolved to host a follow-up health conference in Liberia to involve the Liberian government and people in mapping out a program of action for eradicating malaria in Liberia.
The resolutions emanating from the symposium on malaria were presented to the Liberian government by LIHEDE, and LIHEDE is now finalizing preparations, in consultation with a number of governmental and nongovernmental organizations and institutions inside and outside Liberia, for hosting a national health conference in Monrovia late 2006 devoted to finding a common solution to the malaria menace in Liberia. The outgoing Bryant Administration has endorsed the conference aimed at eradicating malaria, and it is our hope that the Sirleaf Administration will lend its support to the malaria conference as well.
LIHEDE is fully aware of the global malaria initiative by U.S. President George Bush to which millions of American dollars have been devoted for malaria treatment around the globe, and we hope the American First Lady and Secretary of State will use their good offices for some of the funds earmarked for global malaria treatment to be used in Liberia.
Again, LIHEDE is gratified by the historic events unfolding in Liberia and wishes to extend heartfelt congratulations to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on the historic occasion of her pending inauguration as the 23rd president of Liberia, and appreciation to First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the historic visit to Liberia. These confluents of political and diplomatic developments and activities in Liberia signal a new day in Liberia’s political and social transformations for which all Liberians and friends of Liberia must be proud.
Nat Galarea Gbessagee
Secretary General, LIHEDE
Syrulwa Somah, PhD
Executive Director, LIHEDE