USAID/Liberia Mission Director Jim Wright's Remarks at the 51st Anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

(As prepared for delivery)

I am extremely delighted to join you today to celebrate the 51st anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital. The hospital is in many ways symbolic of the cherished deep relations between the United States and Liberia. 

This hospital, built in response to a request by Liberian President William V.S. Tubman to President John F. Kennedy during a 1961 visit to Washington, laid the groundwork for funding for a national medical center in Liberia by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  As you can see, the United States has been Liberia’s steady partner for health sector development ever since.

The importance that we place on this long-standing health partnership with the John F. Kennedy Hospital is indicated by the fact that several different United States Government agencies are involved.  They include USAID, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institute for Health (NIH), the Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Department of State’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR.  

Working together, the U.S. Government has continued over the years to advance infrastructural developments including the imaging center, eye center, newly opened laboratory and laboratory suite, and the center for infectious disease, to name a few.  We also partnered through the deadly Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and continue to provide support for excellence in research and internal management systems.

We are proud that the hospital has served as the operations center for the U.S. Partnership for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases in Liberia (PREVAIL) and supports research studies on Ebola survivors, HIV and malaria. The US Government and JFK have further partnered to improve medical residency training and to reduce maternal and newborn deaths through institutionalizing Ministry of Health-approved quality improvement standards.

PREVAIL and our PEPFAR program together have coordinated technical and operational support to JFK Medical Center and the National AIDS Control Program to provide enhanced viral load testing.  As a result, HIV patients at JFK receive high quality, timely and respectful care.  Most importantly by ensuring viral suppression, people who have HIV and take their medication regularly can lead normal lives without risk of infecting others.

We would be remiss to celebrate our many years of health partnerships without taking the opportunity to laud the hospital which continues to anchor Liberia’s broader health system, providing care for thousands annually and producing a regular supply of medical doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals through its component institutions, the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, and the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts.

Hospital management and workers have every cause to celebrate this milestone commemoration. The hospital’s service to the people of Liberia has profoundly impacted the healthcare environment — and I salute the doctors, nurses, and the support staff — for their unyielding dedication to health care and treatment in Liberia. Thank you for all that you do.

I also wish to congratulate the Ministry of Health for its outstanding performance in vaccinating 57% of the population against COVID-19. Liberia has done far better than most other African countries in protecting its population against this continuing threat. This is another powerful example of successful partnership between the US and Liberia to improve public health.

As we commemorate the 51st anniversary of this distinguished institution, I would like us to take a moment to look into the future, to create in our minds a picture of what we would like to see in the next 50 years of JFK Medical Center. Together, let’s aim towards establishing JFK Medical Center as one of the best tertiary health care providers in all of Sub-Saharan Africa!  I urge you to begin today, thinking about what the next decade must look like… how together we can work to catapult this institution into the future.

So once again I congratulate the management and staff of JFK Hospital, especially Dr. Jerry Brown under whose leadership the Hospital has experienced dramatic improvements. The U. S. Government will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, as we work together to strengthen and implement effective health outcomes.

May JFK Hospital continue to flourish and improve in the months and years ahead.

Thank you.


Issuing Country 

Last updated: August 01, 2022

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