Prioritize Health Sector in Budget, Says Health Advocacy Group

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A health advocacy group, National Health Advocacy Network of Liberia is calling on the government to correct mistakes that led to almost two weeks of strike from the nation’s health workers.

The group came out with the request following two days of strategic planning held to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

The call by the group—for government to give preference to the Health sector—raised the specter (ghost) of a strike action by health workers across the country that led to a serious health crisis last month.

According to the group, low incentives for health workers is contributing to the increasing flight of experienced medical practitioners to other countries. They listed regular shortages of needed drugs, and poorly equipped medical facilities as other hurdles constantly faced in the health-care sector.

In a statement, the health advocacy group called on government to respect the Abuja Declaration which, among other things, calls for commitment to the Health sector by increasing financial allotments in order to fight infant mortality.

As June approaches for the passage of the fiscal budget, the NHANL is of the view that government remains aware of the plight of health workers and is investigating the causes of problems they face in order to address them.

Briefing the Daily Observer on some of the plights of health workers, a representative of the group said that health workers have complained of low incentives, lack of social security benefits, and discrepancies in salaries for years.

On the issue of salary discrepancy, the group noted that certain people are given preferential treatment by receiving salaries in US Dollars while others receive theirs in less valuable Liberian Dollars.
In addition, the group noted that government only provides a single uniform for health workers when they should receive three sets per person.

“A quality public health care system is critical for improving life expectancy and has numerous social and economic benefits; they include national savings on amounts that would otherwise be expended on expensive foreign health trips,” the group emphasized.

The National Health Advocacy Network of Liberia is also planning a full documentary to map health challenges in Montserrado County.
The research would focus on access to quality public health services and facilities in Montserrado County.

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