Vice President Joseph N. Boakai says the country’s healthcare delivery system has been nudged upward because the Liberian government has invested in the sector.
Speaking yesterday at the 40th Annual General Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Physicians (WACP) at a resort in Paynesville outside Monrovia, Vice President Boakai said the government achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number Four in the reduction of child mortality.
“And this was because the ministry made concerted efforts to attain the MDG four. They were achieved based on the relentless efforts by the government to improve the healthcare delivery system across the fifteen counties,” he added.
Speaking on the theme “Building a Resilient Health System in West Africa: Social Economic and Political Implications,” VP Boakai said the government also made significant gains in intervention programs that improved maternal health and basic packages of health services that were established in 2007.
Minister of Health Dr. Bernice Dahn said building resilient healthcare systems will require strong government systems for the health sector in their planning, financial management, and accountability in the region.
“How do we as a region and as a continent ensure that the support we are getting from external partners is actually assisting us in the rebuilding or developing the sector? We have to take charge of coordination and properly align with each other to ensure that we build a resilient health system in West Africa,” he urged the gathering.
In Liberia, she said, the government has developed an investment plan for building a resilient health system in nine areas, each of which is a building block for a well-functioning healthcare delivery system for the people.
Minister Dahn said the building of a resilient healthcare system in Liberia will require about 1.5 billion United States dollars to fully implement the sector for the next seven years.
For this year, she said, the national account shows that “we have about 400 million dollars in the health sector.”
“Even with a detailed plan, it is difficult to directly align external resources and partner activities to the government’s goals. When I reflect on how much money passed through the government and partners over time, I know that we would have had a resilient health system in place several times over by now,” Minister Dahn said.
According to her, external donors and partners need to work with various countries in strengthening the governments’ systems, rather than undermining them with parallel processes.
Minister Dahn added “We in government have the responsibility to hold ourselves and our partners equally accountable for the efficient use of the resources at our deposal.”
Dr. Kalifa Bojang, president of the college, said the theme of this year’s celebration is apt and timely as they seek to rebuild the already weakened health system devastated by the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014.
Dr. Bojang said the existence of WACP over the last forty years is a milestone, especially being relevant as a body and repositioning to the changing dynamics of healthcare, training and education.
“Indeed, our strategic plan cycle is due for renewal and we will use this meeting as an opportunity to plan ahead for the next 10 years and beyond, because our international partnerships continue to grow with excellent and mutually beneficial programs,” Dr. Bojang said.
In addition, he said, the college considers rebuilding health systems in post-Ebola Liberia and Sierra Leone as top priority and has dispatched teams to both countries for assessment visits and remains delighted to announce measures the college has put in place to facilitate training in these two sister nations.
The measures, he said include “Waiving of primary examination fees for three years for their nationals; inviting their trainers to college revision courses in Ibadan to equip them to mount revision courses in their countries; granting partial accreditation to both John F. Kennedy and Olu During Hospitals in Monrovia and Freetown respectively to commence residency training in pediatrics, among others.”
The program was witnessed by representatives from member states, local and international partners, representatives from other health organizations and local doctors, including Dr. Wilhemina Jallah of Hope for Women International.