USAID Mission Director stresses the need for gov’t to prioritize health

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Some of the medical practitioners celebrate with their mentors prior to the recent close out event in Monrovia

…At MCSP/RHS Close Out Event

An official close out event of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Maternal and Child Survival Program’s Restoration of Health Services (MCSP/RHS) Project, was held recently with a call on government and partners to improve the country’s healthcare system.

The event was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), USAID and County Health Teams of Grand Bassa, Nimba and Lofa counties as well as partners, under the theme, “Restoring Health Services.”

USAID Mission Director Dr. Anthony Chan used the occasion to urge the Liberian government to maintain a strong emphasis and capital investment focused on all areas of the health system, if the country must achieve universal access to safe quality services through improved capacity of the health network.

Dr. Chan said government must maintain emphasis on health infrastructure, health workforce, medicines and supplies, leadership and governance, information systems and service delivery. According to him, health infrastructure, health workforce, medicines and supplies, leadership and governance, information systems and service delivery are cardinal priority investments that will need to be met in order to achieve universal access to safe quality services through improved capacity of the health network.

Chan said the MCSP-RHS played an important role in Ebola recovery efforts. Dr. Chan noted that the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2016 was the largest Ebola epidemic ever and said it resulted in more than 28,000 suspected cases and more than 11, 000 deaths.

He indicated that the epidemic weakened the already fragile health systems in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. “It exposed the absence of basic infection prevention and control infrastructure and practices in the health systems of those countries, which served to exacerbate the outbreak,” Chan said.

He noted that in response to the epidemic, USAID developed a four-pillar strategy to control the outbreak and advance recovery from second order impact of Ebola, to build coherent leadership and operations and to strengthen global health security in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The MCSP responded to the Ebola epidemic by advancing the recovery from second order impacts and building coherent leadership in Grand Bassa, Lofa and Nimba counties,” Chan said. The results from those counties, according to him, are encouraging.

He further added that the MCSP helped to restore service delivery at primary healthcare facilities in all three counties, with significant improvements in the quality and accessibility of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services.

Additionally, Dr. Chan said the program supported a nationwide roll-out of infection prevention and control training and protocols.

Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah lauded USAID for its support to the health sector. Senator Peter Coleman, chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health, also lauded USAID, and called on development partners to focus on counties in the southeast.

The project started in August 2015 and worked in 77 facilities, with 30 in Grand Bassa, 30 in Nimba, and 17 in Lofa. It worked to improve Infection Prevention and Control practices as well as improving the Quality of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health services.

The close out event witnessed cultural performances, testimonies from beneficiaries and communities “telling their stories” as well as MoH, County and District Health teams. MCSP/RHS also held an exhibition showcasing selected high impact interventions focusing on Infection Prevention and Control, Monitoring, Evaluation and Research, Waste, Water and Triage upgrades and Maternal, New born and Child Health services.

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