ZÜRICH, August 3, 2020 – A US-based COVID-19 Expert-Group has alleged that the Representative of the World Health Organization in Liberia (WHO), Dr. Lugala Peter Lasuba Clement was “possibly being paid by the Liberian government to slander and speak negative” of an acclaimed NIH-trained Liberian infectious disease expert, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan. Dr. Nyan has been critical of the Liberian government’s “incompetence” and “mishandling” of the COVID-19 pandemic response in the little West African country.
In a Zoom video conference held over the weekend, the Expert-Group said that it found it “unprofessional and against diplomatic protocols” that Dr. Peter would misuse his position and mingle himself in the local politics of a country, teaming up with the government to circulate false statements about an “accomplished and reputable scientist like Dr. Nyan who has contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic preparedness and response in Liberia and around Africa.”
The Expert Group of mainly African origin is comprised of epidemiologists, doctors, and medical scientist from major US academic institutions and the Biotech industry that provides expert advice to African governments on the COVID-19 pandemic response.
The Group’s action comes in response to what it terms as “weeks of silence of Dr. Peter to comment on the derogatory letter bearing his signature” which was circulated on the internet by the country’s Ministry of Information to silence Dr. Nyan, a respected infectious scientist.
All efforts to contact Dr. Peter failed as he and his Communication Director, Olivia Dennis, did not returned email messages nor respond to questions regarding his involvement in the defamation and the accusation of alleged bribery. The country’s Ministries of Information and Foreign Affairs also did not respond to calls.
An official complaint demanding an investigation by the WHO has been filed against Dr. Clement Peter. The complaint was filed last week by Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan at the WHO-African regional office in Brazzaville and with the United Nation Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in Liberia, Dr. Kingsley Opoku Amaning, who oversees the activities of UN agencies in Liberia.
“This is a formal complaint about a defamatory letter dated May 22, 2020 (“Ref No.: A3/27/01/348”) that is attributed to Dr. Clement Peter, the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Liberia, which he [Dr. Clement] has yet to clarify, correct, disclaim and retract. The letter was circulated on social media by the Liberian Ministry of Information …,” Dr. Nyan’s complaint to the WHO and UNRC stated.
“I am kindly requesting that you [UNRC] and the WHO: inquire from Dr. Clement Peter as to whether he wrote the defamatory letter that is attributed to him; and, urge Dr. Clement Peter to clarify, correct, and disclaim the defamatory letter,” Dr. Nyan’s complaint further demanded.
In March this year, the award-winning scientist, Dr. Nyan cautioned the Liberian government against corruption and misappropriation of any COVID-19 funds from the WHO, World Bank, the IMF and other partners intended for the Liberia’s pandemic response. These suggestions sparked a spree of attacks and insults from senior Liberian government officials and semiliterate junior minsters against Dr. Nyan, leading to action intended to silence and undermine the infectious diseases specialist.
Sources quoted under condition of anonymity revealed the involvement of high level Liberian government officials including the Minister of Information and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finley, in the scheme to use the WHO-Liberia representative, Dr. Clement Lugala Peter, to silence and undermine the infectious diseases specialist, because of his [Dr. Nyan’s] positions against government’s misuse of pandemic resources and for his advocacy for the protection of healthcare workers and against police brutality of citizens during the country’s “State of Emergency” and partial lock-down.
Recently the government was not transparent about the use of a US$30 Million it obtained intended for food relief, stating that it paid the World Food Program (WFP) about US$10 Million for administrative cost, claims that were disputed by the WFP during an inquiry by a local paper, FrontPage Africa. The WFP indicated that it was paid US$1.8 Million.
Dr. Nyan also questioned government’s decision to have the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), a non-medical entity, to “recruit and train 6000 contact-tracers,” while about 3000-trained public health personnel from the 2014 Ebola outbreak were sidelined by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and the Ministry of Health. Dr. Nyan also questioned the government importation and use of the untested Madagascar “COV Herbal Drink,” which is falsely claimed to cure COVID-19.
He [Dr. Nyan] also proposed a protocol revision of Liberia’s unscientific procedures and cautioned against running of COVID-19 testing on dead bodies picked up from the streets or communities. Liberia has shortages of testing kits, lack the testing capacity and has frequently produced wrong COVID-19 test results for patients. Dr. Nyan’s free offer to develop testing kits for Liberia was never taken up by government.
As Dr. Nyan predicted in March, Liberia’s COVID-19 cases continue to rise with, 1,207 confirmed cases and 77 deaths too date according to accumulated data by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. The country has a fragile health system and has not utilized its experience from the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 Expert Group has admonished the WHO and UNRC “to conduct a thorough investigation of Dr. Nyan’s complaint and should not sweep the issue under the carpet or cover up for its employee, Dr. Clement Peter.
US and Swiss Lawyers representing Dr. Nyan have declined to comment on a possible law suit against Dr. Clement Lugala Peter as they await results of the complaint filed with the WHO Regional Office and the UNRC in Liberia
By Fatoumata Njei contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Main Photo: clement /SBNMedia