The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Health, and its partners, are meeting to discuss how to build a post-Ebola resilient healthcare delivery system in Liberia.
It is no secret that the nation’s health sector completely collapsed in 2014 when the deadly EDV tested the “gains” that health stakeholders boasted they had attained before Ebola struck.
The 3-day meeting, which is being held at the Paynesville City Hall, is aimed at assessing the nation’s healthcare system and also to arrive at a consensus on an investment plan for the health sector.
The meeting, being attended by local and international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), European Union (EU), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Bank (WB), will validate the country’s health system assessment report as a result of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) and also build consensus on finalizing the post-Ebola investment plan for the sector as the nation moves toward building a resilient health system.
According to the chairman of the Planning Committee for the meeting, Mr. Momolu V.O. Sirleaf, “the objectives of the meeting are to review and validate the health system assessment report; further review and refine critical investment areas for building a resilient health system and build consensus on the Investment and Transitional Health Plans.”
“The meeting would also offer an opportunity for the country’s stakeholders to provide inputs into the national assessment findings that were undertaken by the Ministry of Health in order to provide key decisions in developing the health sector post-Ebola plan,” he further stated.
The validation plan will build upon the 10-year Health Plan developed and launched by the government in 2011. Mr. Sirleaf clarified that the post-Ebola plan would be an add-on to the 10-year health plan.
At the formal opening of the meeting yesterday, Deputy Health Minister Yah M. Zorlia, stated that prior to the Ebola outbreak, Liberia was successfully implementing its 10-year health program with some level of good progress. According to her, notable among the “gains” was the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal Four (MDG4), which is the under-five mortality rate reduction. In 2013, Liberia received praises from international bodies, including the United Nations, for meeting the MDG4.
The nation had already gone three years into the implementation of the 10-year plan and stakeholders had planned to meet in October 2014 to evaluate the performance of the first three years when Ebola struck.
“In March 2014 the Ebola outbreak started. This led to the breakdown of essential health services in Liberia,” Mrs. Zorlia added. She further stated that the EVD outbreak exposed weaknesses in the health sector and the healthcare delivery system of the country.
“This needs to be addressed so that we can avoid the reversal of the gains we have made thus far; as well as build a health system that is able to withstand any future threats,” she stressed.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, assembled a team of health technocrats, who began planning for building a resilient health sector back in October 2014. The 10-year plan’s cost for the next seven years run into several millions of United States dollars.
Affirming the Investment Plan, Dr. Gwenigale said, “This investment plan for building a resilient health system in Liberia represents an effort arising from the experience of the Ebola virus disease.
“It highlights the Government’s priorities in re-building the health system to ensure it has the capacity, not only to provide the expected essential health services for the people of Liberia, but also able to identify and appropriately respond to future health threats of whatever form.”
The Health Minister told the audience that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was awaiting the final document that would emerge from the conference. He further disclosed that the document is one of the papers that the President might take along with her to a donor conference to be held in Washington, D.C. “So let’s work and finish it so she can take it with her and see what we can do to raise funds to build a better health system than we had before,” declared Dr. Gwenigale.
Representatives of various health partners who made separates remarks at the opening, all pledged to work with the Ministry as it strives to build a resilient health sector.