Health Sector Gets Boost

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The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has donated three tricycles, six motorbikes, one Nissan Land Cruiser and other assorted items valued at US$230,000 to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoSHW) in Congo Town. The items are for use in Grand Kru, Maryland and River Gee Counties.

These counties are among the hard-to-reach counties in the Southeastern region of Liberia. The deplorable condition of the roads to these counties makes trips to reach them take over a day. Most health posts in these counties are almost impossible to reach by car.

Before she handed over the items to the Health Ministry authorities on Wednesday, March 5, Ms. Ratidzai Ndhlovu, UNFPA Resident Representative, stated that in 2013, Liberia was among six countries that received a grant from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through the H4+ partnership in the tune of US$6 million.

Ms. Ndhlovu stated that in Liberia, the World Health Organization (WHO) is the coordinating agency for the implementation of the grant, which is executed by UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF, UNWOMEN and UNAIDS.

“In July 2013, Liberia received the disbursement of US$3.5 million for the first 18-month period,” she disclosed. 

The UNFPA head further disclosed the grant is globally intended to help countries accelerate efforts toward achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 & 5 which are aimed at reducing maternal and newborn mortality. 

To avoid duplication of efforts while leveraging the agency’s comparative advantage, each member of the H4+ in Liberia, has been assigned special tasks under this project.

Among other things, the UNFPA shall perform the following tasks, including enhancing County Health Teams’ logistical capacity to respond to the health needs of women and their children in order to improve access to and utilization of reproductive health services including family planning; improving the availability of much needed drugs and medical supplies and strengthen the supply chain systems at county level to ensure the availability of much needed drugs and supplies including family planning commodities.

The UN specialized organ will also strengthen two health training institutions to increase the number and availability of quality maternal health work force to deliver comprehensive maternal and newborn health services and strengthen the delivery of quality maternal and newborn health services at community, clinic and hospital levels.

The UNFPA Resident Rep. said the Land Cruiser is to assist the Family Health Division conduct quality coordination, monitoring and providing overall support for the project implementation; the six motorbikes (2 per county) for monitoring and supervision of the project activities at county level; while the three tricycles to support commodity distribution to short distant health facilities so that the available vehicles can concentrate on more distant health facilities; and 21 hospital beds and assorted equipment for 18 health facilities including 3 hospitals in all three counties.

Along with those items, the UNFPA also donated over 2,000 resource documents and materials for distribution to all health facilities nationwide.

Making brief remarks, the Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn, stated that two years ago, during one of the Ministry’s annual health conferences, they realized that county health teams had started innovated ways of reducing maternal and newborn mortality in the country.

After that conference she said the Ministry of Health drew up a document known as the Accelerated Action Plan, which was estimated to the tune of US$60 million. “We decided to mobilize the needed resources to support the AAP, and that is how the H4+ came in to help,” she added.

The keys to the vehicles were received by the Deputy Minister for Administration, Mr. Matthew Flomo, who said the items would be used for their intended purposes.

See page 6 for a pictorial on the donation ceremony.

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