US$1.7bn to Build Resilient Health System

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Authorities of the Ministry of Health (MOH) have disclosed a seven-year (2015-2021) plan to develop a resilient health system at the cost of US$1.7 billion.
The plan is part of government’s efforts to improve the health status of the Liberian population.

One of the delegates at the ceremony said the cost analysis of an improved access to safe and quality health services included the provision of health security and reducing risks due to epidemics and other health threats.

This, a participant reflected, was owing to the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) which exposed and crashed the country’s health system – killing over 4,000 Liberians, among them some health workers.

Health Ministry authorities made the formal disclosure yesterday during a two-day Health Review Meeting with implementing partners at the Paynesville Town Hall outside Monrovia.

The meeting brought together over 50 national and international stakeholders, who also reviewed the health recovery plan through the implementation and validation of one of the seven year (2015/2016) Operational Budget to the tune of US$202 million.

According to the Liberia Health System Assessment report, in order to rapidly restore the essential health services, repair urgent health system vulnerabilities and transition resources to recovery needs, nine strategic and high priority areas have been earmarked.

They include building a fit-for-purpose productive and motivated health workforce that equitably and optimally delivers quality services; re-engineering the health infrastructure to conform to the population needs for health services, and strengthening epidemic preparedness, surveillance and response that include the expansion of the established surveillance and early warning and response systems. This is to ensure that it is comprehensive enough to detect and respond to future health threats.

The remaining priorities are management capacity for medical supplies and diagnostics, enhancement of quality service delivery systems, comprehensive information, research and communication management, sustainable community engagement, leadership and governance capacity, and efficient health financing systems.

However, during the presentation of a review of the recovery plan implementation and validation of the first year’s budget for 2015/2016 Operation, three baselines were highly marked.

Assistant Minister for Vital Statistics, Chea Sanford Wesseh, named the three pillars as access to utilization of safe and quality health services that will take about US$183 million; emergency risk management , US$12 million; and appropriate enabling environment, US$6 million; totaling US$202 million, which is part of the US$1.7 billion.

If the 2015/2016 budget is validated and supported by government and donors, some of the priorities would include the employment of 1,500 health workers; the upgrading of the John F. Kennedy (J.F.K) Medical Center to become a state-of-the-art national referral and teaching hospital; the establishment of the national public health institute; the upgrading of emergency services in all county hospitals, and; the improvement of in and out patients’ services at all health facilities across the country for both public and privately own facilities.

During the official opening ceremony, Dr. Francis Kateh, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), welcomed participants and Assistant Minister for Policy and Planning explained the objective and overview of the meeting.

In separate remarks, representatives from European Union (EU), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Health Organization (WHO) reconfirmed their support to rebuilding the health sector.

Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn expressed appreciation to the implementing partners for their support which she said led to the planning and validation of plans for restoring the country’s health sector that began in 2007.

Dr. Dahn indicated that in 2011, a 10-year Plan (2011-2021) was launched to improve the health delivery services across the country.

“Three years later,” she said, “the health system was ill-equipped to effectively respond to the EVD epidemic with the necessary occupational health, safety, infection prevention and control measures for safe and effective health services.”

Minister Dahn noted that the Ebola virus had a devastating impact on the health system, the population and the Liberian economy.
“We are counting on you to build a resilient health system, because we know you will,” Dr. Dahn told the partners.

Unconfirmed reports circulating among the participants yesterday hinted that the World Bank, USAID, EU and the Irish Aid would provide funding for the investment plan to repair and improve the health system.

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