Dear Dr. Ghebreyesus:
I present my compliments and write to bring to your kind attention an unfortunate situation unfolding in Liberia in relation to COVID-19 testing. My understanding is that the WHO values integrity, professionalism, and respect for diversity. However, the conduct of the Ministry of Health and the National Public health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) under the direction of the George Weah Government has not reflected those values in their dealings with my father, Alaric Kormu Tokpa.
Although it is my understanding that the President of Liberia “has set up a special investigative committee to probe the reported breach in the health and administrative protocols which guide the issuance of Covid-19 test results by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL, the Government of Liberia is known to respond to public outcries by setting up investigation teams without interest in treating findings or reports from such teams as serious matters of concern.
On Monday, July 6, 2020, my father, intending to travel out of Liberia, was tested for COVID-19 as per the travel protocols established by the Government of Liberia. He was subsequently informed that his test results had gone missing from the lab. My father once more tested on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. He tried hard through an entire rainy day to obtain his test result from health authorities in Liberia. After substantial delay at the NPHIL, he was given documentation declaring him COVID-19 negative and free to travel. While en-route to the Roberts International Airport (RIA), my father was contacted via text message informing him that his results had been negligently handled and that, as per a new determination, he was in fact positive for COVID-19. He was told that his results had already been “spread around” to health authorities at the airport and his travel denied.
My Father was not provided with official documentation stating the changes to his results but was requested to turn himself in to the quarantine center, regardless the fact that he lives alone and remains without symptoms of COVID-19.
In that light, I ask that you kindly clarify the standards and requirements of your sponsorship of COVID-19 testing as it relates to human rights. My father, an advocate for social justice and equality, and a political aspirant in the 2020 senatorial elections, has reason to believe that the issues which emerged in the course of his COVID-19 testing are not innocent given the tendency of the current Liberian government to witch hunt and persecute critical voices. Kindly confirm if your resources may be used for political gain, or at least for the abuse of the rights of private citizens of a country. It is based on my respect for the pedigree and values of the WHO that I call upon your clarification regarding this apparent misappropriation of your resources in the exploitation of human rights in Liberia. I earnestly await your response as I hope to God for my father’s safety in the face of this unthinkable circumstance.
Respectfully, Nina Collins
(Daughter of Alaric Tokpa)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Main Photo Dr. Ghebreyesus, Director General WHO