By David A. Yates and Robin Dopoe
United Arab Emirates (UAE), in partnership with the Liberian government through the Ministry of Health (MoH), on Sunday, April 7, 2019 launched a one-year health project aimed at improving maternal and infant healthcare in rural parts of the country.
The project, which is funded by UAE, is estimated at US$1 million as an initial contribution to the project titled, “Strengthening Maternal and Infant Healthcare in Liberia Program. It will be implemented by Mercy Corps; a leading global humanitarian agency saving and improving lives in the world’s toughest places.
Recent assessments of Maternal and Child Care by the World Health Organization, point to a maternal mortality ratio of 1,072 deaths per 100,000 live births in Liberia. The country is among the world’s 15 most dangerous countries to give birth.
In a low-income country like Liberia, factors such as low numbers of skilled and motivated health workers; unequal geographic distribution of the health workforce; low access to ante- and post-natal care services; lack of information on maternal services and practices; cultural practices; poor accountability; poverty and low levels of trust for health sector workers and services, puts the lives of women and children under five years at of age risk of death.
To reverse this canker, a partnership between UAE Aid, Ministry of Health and Mercy Corps seeks to address the root causes and challenges that affect services to maternal and child healthcare. The project will directly improve the health status of 15,000 women of reproductive ages and children under five in rural communities.
Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, UAE’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation, said the visit by the UAE Delegation to Liberia is a follow-up to President George Weah’s recent visit and meeting with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE Delegation, which sought to evaluate economic opportunities in Liberia, comprised people from diverse backgrounds, including the seaport development, healthcare, and Small and Medium Enterprises.
Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, described the partnership as welcome news on account that one of the important challenges facing the country’s health sector is the high maternal and neonatal mortality, which the project seeks to address.
According to Dr. Jallah, the project will focus on “primary healthcare, because this is where people center their focus on the importance of healthcare, because you can see what issues they are having at the community level, and making sure that they take advantage of the facility.”
Dr. Jallah: “At the end of the project, we hope to see a reduction in the maternal and neonatal mortality.”
Mercy Corps Liberia Country Director, Kwasi Gyeabour, informed members of the delegation that the MoH will provide strategic direction and focus as to where the project will be implemented over the next one year, “and so we are of the hope to reach out to 15,000 women of reproductive ages and children under five.
“As we all know, we are still growing as a country, because our community health system is not as strong as it should be, so a bulk of the funding will go towards supporting healthcare at the community level to provide the necessities that we need to ensure that our women remain safe all the time.”