Liberia’s Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn, says although the government is showing a great deal of interest in the country’s Health Sector, the sector is still being predominantly funded externally.
Minister Dahn believes this poses a financial risk to the sector and it is time to strategize and provide financial resilience to the sector.
Minister Dahn said though government has shown a great deal of priority to the health sector by contributing 14 percent of the country’s General budget …this constitutes just 15 percent to the annual cost of financing the sector.
Speaking at the start of a three-day National Health Financing conference in Monrovia, Minister Dahn said Liberia appreciates the renewed global commitment that the Sustainable Development Goals bring to the health sector especially goal number three which is good health and well-being, guided by the Universal Health Coverage.
In a presentation on Liberia’s progress to achieving the Universal Health Coverage, Deputy Health Minister for planning, Yah Zolia, recounted the success Liberia has made since 2006 following the inauguration of the current administration.
Minister Zolia recalled that in that year the ministry of health inherited a dysfunctional health system, lack of health policy and a budget of 7 million for the health sector.
She however said Liberia has made tremendous progress in rebuilding the health sector as the country is currently contributing 14 percent of its annual budget to the health sector, though one percent difference of the Abuja declaration which requires 15 percent.
Minister Zolia said in order for Liberia to achieve the Universal Health Coverage, it must ensure to discourage the high out of pocket spending for health care, an equitable distribution of government and partners’ resources that go the counties and the issue of efficiency must also be addressed.
The Deputy Health Minister who presented for a little over thirty minutes, also spoke of the additional progress which include increased life expectancy, achievement of the MDG, the country is still making further progress to achieve the UHC.
“We must ensure that the bulk of our health Financing are domestically sourced for us to achieve the UHC”. Minister Zolia said.
She said currently the ministry is thinking about a number of ways to provide adequate health care to the people …introduction of the drugs revolving funds and earmarking taxes to go towards health.
The three day National Health Financing Conference brings together stakeholders from the government, private sector, donors, line ministries and the legislature to dialogue on how to design and implement health financing reform that will help Liberia move towards the UHC in the long term.
It be recalled that in 2011, Liberia developed its first post- conflict National Health Financing policy and strategy to guide the health sector sustainably finance health.
By: Sorbor George
Director of Communication /MOH