(June 30, 2022 Monrovia, Liberia)—The Ministry of Health (MOH) has begun the validation of a 10-year policy document that aims to reduce infant mortality.
The goal of the National Community Health Program (NCHP) is to enhance the delivery of quality community health program and to also reduce maternal, neonatal, infant, and adolescent mortality and morbidity in all communities and creating child-friendly communities through disease detection, prevention, and response.
The program is a coordinated, high-quality, government-managed community health care system aimed at contributing to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in which all households should have access to life-saving services and are empowered to mitigate potential public health risks in the community.
This process is intended to criticize the policy documents and make suggestions where necessary, as well as make recommendations for its finalization by the committee response. It further focuses on building consensus and getting stakeholders’ buy-in on the Community Health Program (CHP) policy, aligning the NCHP policy document and reviewing sticky points per thematic areas which will develop a justification for possible inclusion or exclusion in policy areas.
“This process has come a very long way over the last one-year plus, and the Ministry had a lot of engagements with national, County, districts, and at community, levels to ensure that community health services are provided in a more equitable way in the communities thus improving health care services in Liberia,”
Olasford Wiah, Director of the NCHP.
Olasford Wiah, Director of the NCHP also told participants that going forward the Ministry wants to see different approaches when it comes to community health services across the country.
The policy documents are also intended to strengthen community structures through standardization of identification and orientation processes, which include: creating, training, equipping, incentivizing, supervising, deploying, digitally empowering, supporting, and motivating fit-for-purpose Community Health Workers (CHW).
Wiah indicated that going forward the Ministry wants to see different approaches when it comes to community health. “For example, the issues of the human resource aspect of the Community health program.
What do we intend to do, and how do we intend to achieve that? The issue of supply chain commodities for community health workers: what are those policies we need to put in place for them to ensure that they do their work effectively and efficiently.”
Wiah, however, clarified that the intent of the validation is not to create something new in the policy documents but to build around what they already have. “We have Community Health Assistants (CHA) who are carrying on their activities in rural communities and urban cities. We already have Community Health Volunteers (CHV); but these CHV roles are not in a clear direction as compared to CHA; therefore we want to standardize what these CHA’s are doing now so that we don’t have a loophole in the system, as we have been seeing in the urban settings.”
This, he believes, will help Liberia’s health system, adding that the Ministry wants to see one community health policy with two different approaches. “One of the approaches is that we are currently doing the work of the CHA’s in rural communities. The second approach is to just standardize what the CHV’s in urban cities are doing to address the health needs of the community.”
He said: “We have learned lessons since the inception of this program in 2016. We want to keep the situations engaging as they come out in the health sector.”
Dr. Francis Keteh, Chief Medical Officer, (CMO) stressed the importance of maintaining the momentum of the NCHP to show the development partners that Liberia is appreciative of all of the support over the years and is doing something better to improve the country’s health system.
Keteh sees this as essential to Liberia’s health sector and calls on the national legislature to allocate more funds in the budget to support the program. “We all have to work continuously with the program managers so that at the end of the day we can continue to maintain quality health care service not compromise, but also provide what is needed for us to move forward,” he added.
The ongoing validation process began from June 16 -18, and it brought together health technicians, County Superintendents from Grand Bassa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Margibi, River Gee, Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe, River Cess, Lofa Gbapolu, and Bong Counties.
Director of Communications, MOH/RL