The Government of Liberia, through its Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, along with its international partners, including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), on Friday, November 15, launched the first-ever Reproductive Health Commodity Security (RHCS) survey, otherwise referred to as Global Program on Reproductive Health Commodity Security (GPRHCS).
According to the Assistant Health Minister for Preventive Services, Attorney Tolbert G. Nyenswah, the GPRHCS will assess the availability of modern contraceptives and essential lifesaving maternal and reproductive health medicines in service delivery points in Liberia.
The 2013 RHCS survey will be the very first in Liberia and will serve as a benchmark, providing Liberia with baseline data against which to measure results as Liberia moves forward with its recovery programs.
Speaking further Asst. Min. Nyenswah, who officially launched the survey, said Liberia has reached another critical level with the launch of the RHCS, which he described as “very important.” He told the audience that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, some time ago launched the Road Map for the Acceleration of the Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Liberia.
He stated that that launch was followed by another one, which was done by Health and Social Welfare Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale — the Accelerated Action Plan for the Reduction of Maternal Mortality.
According to Asst. Min. Nyenswah, those actions by President Sirleaf and Min. Gwenigale were geared toward the improvement of woman and child health in Liberia.
“For you to succeed there is nothing more critical in reducing maternal, infant and under five mortalities than ensuring that commodities are always, everywhere at any time assessable and affordable at all times,” he stressed.
He said preliminary statistics result has shown that 32 percent of Liberians need the modern contraceptives and essential lifesaving maternal and reproductive health medicines that enumerators would be out there collecting data on.
“Lifesaving commodities such as Magnesium Sulphate and Oxytocin are greater access to our fight to reducing maternal and under-five mortality in our country,” he emphasized.
Asst. Min. Nyenswah further stated that investment in reproductive and maternal and child health can accelerate economy growth, development and improve the lives and wellbeing of citizens.
He stressed that young people should be educated about their reproductive and sexual health.
He told the audience that for them to intervene as public health specialists, enumerators should collect tangible data, so that health stakeholders can be able to make the necessary and relevant interventions.
Also speaking, Ms. Ratidzai Ndhlovu, Resident Representative, UNFPA-Liberia, said the GPRHCS gives comprehensive support to governments to: enhance procurement of contraceptives and essential maternal and reproductive health lifesaving medicines; strengthen the procurement and supply chain management systems including support to the electronic Logistics Management Information System (e-LMIS); enhance advocacy and demand generation for Family Planning services; strengthen national capacity for the provision of Family Planning information and services at health centers and also in communities.
Ms. Ndhlovu further stated that the GPRHCS is a flexible program that leaves each country to decide on the specific activities and interventions, depending on its specific needs.
“This flexibility makes it possible to include modules to collect data on other maternal health indicators on an annual basis. This is why this year’s survey has an additional module to collect data for the H4+ maternal health program,” she added.
The focus of the RHCS survey is on three outcome indicators in the GPRHCS monitoring and evaluation framework: percentage of service delivery points offering at least five modern methods of contraceptives; percentage of service delivery points with seven lifesaving maternal and reproductive health medicines, that is Magnesium Sulphate and Oxytocin plus any other five) from the WHO 2012 list of priority lifesaving medicines for women and children; and percentage of service delivery points with ‘no stock-out’ of contraceptives within the last six months before the survey.
She disclosed that Liberia was joining 45 countries around the world to conduct the annual review of Reproductive Health Commodity Security.
“Results of the 2013 GPRHCS survey will be an excellent complement for the 2013 Liberia Demography and Health Survey (LDHS) and both of these surveys, heavily supported by UNFPA, are two very significant sources of data on family planning, maternal health and reproductive health commodity security. This data will be very useful in determining high impact interventions to ensure reproductive health commodity security thereby contributing to increasing utilization of Family Planning Services and subsequent reduction of maternal mortality.”
She also stated that the information from the survey will allow for international comparison of the participating countries. Nationally, it will be used for sound planning and for making critical decisions about RHCS. In addition, it will provide timely data inputs for the national Family Planning Program.
“This is very critical in Liberia where we have (according to the 2007 DHS) a Contraceptive Prevalence rate as low as 11%, an unmet need as high as 36%, teenage pregnancy rate as high as 38% and this would be a lot higher if we considered adolescent pregnancies. This survey is critical for Liberia that has a maternal mortality as high as 770 per 100,000 live births. All these indicators depict a very somber summary of the reproductive health service delivery system,” she added.