Liberia’s health sector that has gone through some transformation after years of war, has continued to take center stage in the country’s development drive.
The sector suffered a devastating hit in 2014 after the Ebola Crisis erupted and killed dozens of people and made many children homeless. The aftermath of the Ebola can still be seen on the sector that has changed hands from the Ellen Johnson’s Sirleaf Administration to the current leadership headed by President George M. Weah.
Still a major sector, opting for more improvements across the entire country, the Ministry of Health through its Administration, for the first time since the inauguration of the new government, held a retreat for health administrators across the fifteen political subdivisions of the country.
The retreat was held under the supervision of Deputy Health Minister for Administration, Norwu Howard, who appears to have a hand-on approach. In her official opening comments, Deputy Minister Howard, challenged health administrators across the country to up their games in a bid to provide quality healthcare. Minister Howard recalled that people’s expectations for quality health service are high amidst limited resources.
She wants health administrators to utilize resources at their disposal and work with their staff to effectively meet the expectation of the people. Minister Howard said it was unacceptable that health administrators would use a huge chunk of their allotments for DSA instead being used for. the provision of services. She said although there are challenges with human resource, logistic and supply chain among others, Minister Howard charged health administrators to use their leadership skills in addressing some of those challenges.
Minister Howard further reminded the participants of their responsibilities to save lives and properly manage the health sector by helping to optimize services. “We will hold people accountable to the implementation of new ideas and strategies that would evolve from these discussions”. She thanked the Assistant Minister for Administration and other members of the team for the idea to hold such a retreat, which is the first of its kind, promising that it would be an annual event.
The health administrators retreat which took place in Ganta, Nimba Coubty, came barely weeks after the holding of a National Health Financing Dialogue to secure creative ways to fund the health sector.
A resolution was drawn up during the dialogue with recommendation for the reintroduction of the Drugs Revolving Fund. At current, the health sector budget is around a little over 60 million, with personnel taking a huge portion followed by drugs procurement.
Deputy Minister Howard, under whose watchful eyes the retreat was organized and held, is the first minister appointed by President George M. Weah to serve at the Ministry of Health. She appears to have a hand-on-approach on the functionality of the health sector. This is because, she was part of a nationwide assessment, conducted along with World Health Organization, the US based Center for Disease Control and the National Public Health Institute few months back that afforded her the opportunity to get a feel of how the sector was operating in rural Liberia. The tour took them to several counties, where they were briefed by counties health administrators about challenges confronting the sector.
The retreat lasted three days.