‘Ebola Exposes Liberia’s Weak Healthcare System’

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has admitted that the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease has truly exposed the weakness of Liberia’s healthcare system.

The Liberian leader disclosed that in an effort to right this wrong, government and partners have developed a 10-year healthcare Plan that primarily focuses on training and building the capacities of health practitioners across the country.

“The effort to strengthen the healthcare system is paramount and the process has already begun in partnership with the Clinton Health Initiative. A 10-year Healthcare Plan that primarily focuses on training and building the capacity of healthcare workers which was developed prior to the Ebola crisis is being adjusted to reflect current day reality,” President Sirleaf indicated.

She also indicated that since Ebola met the country in a weak health system, there is a need to ensure that the disease leaves the country with a strengthened healthcare system.

The Liberian leader made the disclosure when she held talks with a United Nations Ebola Assessment delegation in Monrovia on Wednesday. The delegation includes representatives from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Bank (WB), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Commission (EC).

President Sirleaf stressed that improvement in the country’s healthcare system is linked to economic recovery and noted that it is important that the role of the private sector in national plans is key and critical both in terms of their needs and potentials.

She acknowledged that community ownership in the Ebola fight made a big difference in containing the virus and emphasized the need for both local and international accountability now and the post-Ebola period.

Upon welcoming the team to Liberia, President Sirleaf requested a full understanding of its work reference.

She also provided updates on the current state of the Ebola fight and indicated that steps towards transitioning from Ebola treatment and prevention to restoring basic healthcare services are well on course.

The head of delegation of the UN Team, Stan Nkwain, informed the Liberian President that the assessment mission was requested by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon to begin plans with the government on actions, plans, interventions and programs to be undertaken during the post-Ebola period.

“We have not come to determine for the government what must be done post-Ebola, but to listen and know what the government and the country intend to undertake after the Ebola crisis. We cannot wait to reach zero case level before beginning the process,” he pointed out.

Mr. Nkwain clarified that the mission’s interventions and work is not an independent assessment, but an exercise intended to liaise with the government and help build upon what the government is already planning and doing. “This action which is a two-day mission seeks to mobilize international momentum for the post-Ebola recovery period,” he indicated.

Though the outbreak did more harm than good, one important good worth mentioning is the exposure of the country’s weak and fragile health system. This will now claim the attention of stakeholders to put appropriate measures in place. One thing that baffles many is whether they were not cognizant of the existing fact or simply pretended not to know.

One observer asked, “But how will they know when they and their families are flown out of the country when they get sick?” But in the aftermath of Ebola there might be no more excuses.

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