The Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah says between January and October 2019, the health sector has recorded over 94,268 normal deliveries conducted by skilled birth attendants, with 7,061 through caesarian section amidst 117,575 infants were reported to be fully immunized.
Speaking at the MOH 11th Annual National Health Review Conference held at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, the Liberian Health Minister disclosed that 146,041 persons are currently living with HIV and Aids, while 6,554 cases of all forms of TB are living with 5,941 cases completing treatment and 2,222 cases cured of TB. She recorded 223,446 as total number of surgeries performed over the period, including all forms of emergencies.
Dr. Jallah explained that in 2018 the MOH and partners conducted a service availability and readiness assessment which covered 765 health facilities, with highest number of facilities (268 Or 35% in Montserrado County while Grand Kru and Gbarpolu Counties having least number each of them had 17 health facilities (both counties constituted 4.8% of the total health facilities).
She said the assessment also showed that majority of health facilities in Liberia were clinic constituting 87.7%, health Centers 7.5% and Hospital 4.9%; and a little over half (56.7%) of the facilities are located in the rural areas.
Dr. Jallah expressed that the health sector is determined to accelerate access and effective coverage as the sector moves towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) where everyone has access to quality health services.
“Our progress towards achieving UHC is being hampered by the prevailing decline in domestic resources mobilization, reduction in personal income as well as shrinking international support. The result is limited resources to provide financial protection and reduce out of pocket spending,” she noted.
She said the provision of health services at no cost to the user has adversely affected the quality of care and it’s only now that the Ministry has begun addressing this issue to measure and improve quality of health services, saying “This so-called ‘Free services’ has continued over the past 12 years and we believe that it is time to introduce some minimum fees to support the Revolving Drug Fund (RDF) as an intermediary measure towards the implementation of the Liberian Health Equity Fund (LHEF).”
Minister Jallah said, “We must take the bold step and announce that we are moving away from this disjointed, uncontrollable free health care regime to a more organized targeted services for the poor and vulnerable Liberians.”
Meanwhile, the Liberian Health Minister says the Ministry is continuing its efforts to expand health services to the majority of the Liberian population, adding that they are gradually shifting from the costly curative, intensive programs to cost-effective, preventive-oriented community-based primary health care programs.
She said the National health delivery system is designed to provide a complementary manner, preventive and curative health services throughout the country, with particular emphasis on maternal newborn and child health (MNCH) services including immunization and nutrition services; infection prevention and control (IPC), WASH, and health promotion.
Serving as keynotes speaker at the conference, House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers said poverty reduction is a central vision of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC’s) government; adding that its eventual eradication cannot be achieved without effective human capital development.
Dr. Chambers believed that a country cannot achieve sustainable human capital development to fight poverty in the absence of a strong health system.
“Poverty eradication cannot be achieved without first achieving Universal Health Coverage (UNC). This makes UHC very critical for poverty eradication,” he continued.
In furtherance, Speaker Chambers said the Liberian health Sector is faced with series of challenges in the mist of high maternal mortality, teenage pregnancy, growing burden of neglected tropical and non-communicable diseases, noting “These challenges cannot be mitigated without the total involvement of all Liberians as stakeholders from our partners in the global community, to Liberians in the diaspora as well as our local communities.
He underscored the importance for total involvement of the users themselves in the management and delivery of health care.
The 11th Annual National Health Conference is observed under the theme: “Improving Access to quality PHC Services in Liberia; A Call to Action”. The opening ceremony gathers officials and staff from the Ministry of Health (MoH), Parliamentarians, County Superintendents, County Health Officers, Civil Society Organizations, Faith-based Organizations, sectorial ministries, media groups and a wide range of health development partners to review and document the health sector performance in fiscal year 2018/2019.
Signed: Felecia Gbesioh