The Ministry of Health along with its stakeholders are now taking steps toward building a resilient health sector following the deadly Ebola virus disease in 2014 and 2015.
One of such steps is the launch of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-sponsored Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP).
The program which is expected to be a two-year USAID-funded activity is intended to support the Liberian government’s commitment to strengthen the country’s health workforce through the new MCSP/ Human Resources for Health (HRH) project.
“This project is focused on strengthening pre-service education for registered midwives (RMs) and medical laboratory technicians (MLTs) in targeted institutions throughout the country,” USAID says in its brochure.
Before formally declaring the program launched, Dr. Samson Azoaquoi, Assistant Minister for Curative Services at the Health Ministry, said that authorities of the Ministry were pleased that USAID, one of their major partners, had come in to support their maternal and child survival program.
Dr. Azoaquoi thanked USAID for the support and promised to continually work with the US aid agency.
Dr. Anthony S. Chan, USAID Liberia Mission Director, said the MCSP aims to strengthen and expand a fit-for-purpose, productive and motivated health workforce to end preventable child and maternal deaths in the country.
At the moment, Liberia’s maternal mortality rate is 1,027 for every 100,000 live births. This means that for every 100,000 women who go to deliver their babies, at least more than 1,000 of them die in the process.
This statistic puts Liberia among the worst places for a woman to deliver a baby.
But with this program, training institutions will be able to tutor would-be midwives on how to skillfully deliver a baby and also detect when there is a danger sign.
Teaching institutions that are expected to form part of the program are Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwifery at the Curran Hospital in Zorzor, Lofa County; the Southeastern Region Midwifery Training Program; the Catholic-owned Mother Patern College of Health Science in Monrovia; and the Phebe Para-Medical Training Program and School of Nursing and Midwifery in Bong County.
Others are the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts and the United Methodist University, both in Monrovia.
At these institutions, the program intends to increase the quality of instruction by upgrading the technical competencies and teaching skills of faculty, including clinical preceptors and strengthen curricula, course materials and delivery of both didactic and clinical training.
It also wants to strengthen the learning environment at targeted pre-service training institutions and clinical practicum teaching sites in a comprehensive way through improved access to high-quality instructional resources.
USAID said at the end of the project, they expect Liberia among other things to have an updated competency-based curricula and procedure manuals for Registered Midwives and Medical Laboratory Technicians (MLTs).
Giving an overview of the program earlier, Jhpiego’s Acting Chief of Party (COP), Mrs. Marion Subah, said they intend to introduce MCSP/HRP to various pre-service education training institutions, regulatory and professional bodies, relevant stakeholders and partners.
She stated that the program is also to review the task analysis and baseline assessment results, and then identify areas of collaboration in the work-plan from targeted training institutions, regulatory and professional bodies.
“Liberia’s health workforce remains significantly below the levels needed to reach the national targets for 2021 laid out in the National Health and Social Welfare Human Resources Policy and Plan 2011–2021,” Mrs. Subah said.
She said the greatest workforce shortages were reported among midwives and laboratory personnel. In addition, pre-service education programs for these two professions are at 50 percent or lower capacity, according to the government’s National Investment Plan 2015–2021.
The MCSP/HRH project, Mrs. Subah said, will achieve its goal by improving pre-service training of midwives and laboratory personnel.
“These professional groups play a critical role in reducing the unacceptably high maternal and newborn mortality rates, implementing the national epidemic response and preparedness program, and conducting accurate testing for appropriate diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as malaria,” she said.