The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Friday donated two cooling trucks to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) for use by the National Drugs Service (NDS).
The vehicles, which are valued at US$300,000, are expected to be used in the storage and distribution of drugs and medical supplies to health facilities around the country.
Welcoming the UNFPA delegation to the Health Ministry, Dr. Saye Baawo, Asst. Health Min. for Curative Services, told the audience that NDS is responsible to ensure the procurement and distribution of drugs and medical supplies to health facilities around the country.
Dr. Baawo further stated that if the nation’s health system, which was completely shattered and exposed by the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD), is to be strengthened and rebuilt post Ebola, then the donation is among other essential things the Ministry envisages.
“A health facility can exist but without the availability of drugs and medical supplies, it is just a structure in itself. UNFPA has come to help NDS do the work that it is responsible to carry out,” he said.
Also speaking, UNFPA Resident Representative to Liberia, Dr. Remi Sogunro, said that in the last five years, gains had been made in the health sector, particularly in maternal and newborn healthcare delivery, “until March of this year when almost every gain that we have made went into the waters.”
Dr. Sogunro stated that his agency and the Health Ministry had conducted a survey about the availability of drugs and medical supplies at every health facility around the country. “At that time before Ebola struck, we realized that a lot, particularly our tertiary and secondary [health] facilities held almost all the life-saving drugs there. However, today the picture is very different,” he stated.
The UNFPA Resident Rep. recalled that pre-Ebola, stock-outs and shortages on essential drugs and medical supplies at health facilities around the country were “very prevalent everywhere. Three quarters of our health facilities were out of drugs, including contraceptives and so on.”
“Mr. Minister, it is because of this that UNFPA decided to donate these two trucks for delivery of drugs to the remotest villages and health facilities around the country,” Dr. Sogunro stated.
Receiving the keys to the trucks, Mr. Matthew Flomo, Deputy Health Minister for Administration, recounted the Ministry’s long partnership history with the specialized UN Agency and assured the UNFPA Family that their donation will long be remembered by both the Ministry and NDS. Mr. Flomo said the nation was currently fighting a “twin battle”— Ebola on one hand and restoration of basic health care delivery on another.
Dep. Min. Flomo disclosed that there are plans to construct regional warehouses to store drugs and medical supplies but in the absence of those storage facilities, he assured that the two vehicles would take supplies to health facilities in the country.