Author(s): Frank Sainworla,Jr & William Selmah
Date of Publication: October 2, 2017
One of Liberia’s national Agenda for Transformation goals is to improve the quality of life by investing in more accessible and higher quality healthcare, as well as expanded access to healthy and environmentally-friendly water and sanitation services.
But the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is still struggling to revamp the broken health care delivery system in the aftermath of the deadly Ebola crisis. It has a master plan called, the Agenda for Transformation (AFT). It puts human development central in line with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. The protocol of the 15-nation sub-regional body seeks to provide basic human needs and fight poverty in countries in the sub-region.
Despite commitment of resources and trained personnel, two-thirds of rural households still travel more than an hour to reach a health facility. Liberia’s international partners and donors are helping to improve the system
Citizens access increasing
But Liberia’s Ministry of Health says citizens’ access to health is increasing, though the country is yet to reach ECOWAS 15% GDP target for investment in the health sector.
“We’ve been fighting between 10-12%. We haven’t met the 15% ECOWAS target of national GDP budget of supporting health care. ECOWAS heads of state met and apportioned 15% of their budget but we’re very close to it. Liberia has been able to reach between 12-13% on that so that’s also good. What we need to improve on is the quality of the kind of health care we need to improve on is the quality of health care we provide to our people…,” says Nyenwsah.
Way to reduce grim statistics
Despite the relative gains Liberia has made in the health sector, it is still rated among countries with the toughest challenges for childbearing mothers. Infant mortality stands at 71 out of every 1,000 live births and neonatal deaths at 994 out of every 100-thousand women seeking delivery services.
One way to reduce these grim statistics is to step up awareness on prenatal care in both urban and rural areas. This is by giving the people access to health facilities.
“Awareness is part of preventive health care but in Liberia we are so glued to curative. For example, we treat malaria in one person three times a month. The person comes…we treat malaria…They go back home they’re infected. They come again, we treat…They go back home they are infected. This is a cycle that will never be broken if we continue to do medicine this way in Liberia,” said Mulbah who currently runs the Omega Community Clinic Monrovia’s Paynesville suburb.
Boost infection prevention control
The National Public Health Institute has been set up to help “heighten infection prevention and control” and beef up health care delivery in the country.
Liberia was one of three countries in the ECOWAS sub-regional grouping worst hit recently by the deadly Ebola virus, with over 4,000 lives being lost.
Even the government admitted that the Ebola outbreak exposed the country’s deplorable health sector. When the disease struck, Liberia had just a few ambulances, while hospitals lacked basic things like gloves.
Now, he says the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government boasts of building a resilient health system, where emphasis is being put on prevention rather than cure in this West African nation of some 4 million people.
The head of Liberia Public Health Institute is rather optimistic about the future of Liberia’s ailing health system saying that the Liberian government was prepared to invest more in the health sector. Access is said to be increasing with the quality of services.
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