Visiting United States Ambassador on Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), Bonnie D. Jenkins, has urged the national government and its partners to intensify efforts to rebuild the public health sector.
Ambassador Jenkins made the call yesterday during a two-day celebration of Laboratory Week for medical laboratory professionals in the country.
Lab Week celebration is meant to promote improvements in Laboratory Science, which according to the Ministry of Health, is now an essential component in health services in Liberia since the Ebola outbreak. It is hosted by Africabio Enterprises Incorporated, with sponsorship from Exxon Mobil, World Health Organization (WHO), Clinton Health Access Initiative and Coca-Cola, among others.
Ambassador Jenkins emphasized that when the public health sector of Liberia is rebuilt, the country will have a resilient health system and ensure that efficient medical services are provided to its citizens.
In the absence of a good public health system, disease outbreaks can be very devastating, Amb. Jenkins warned.
She observed that the public health sector is in dire need of resuscitation, and added that government and partners need to strengthen laboratories to enable health workers to prevent diseases.
National Director for Reference Laboratory (NDRL) at the Ministry of Health, Mr. Philip Sahr, lauded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for making Liberia a part of Global Health Security Agenda.
He said the process of building laboratory systems in the past was very difficult because resources from government were limited.
Mr. Sahr recalled that in the past, the National Reference Laboratory started with a single room in 2002; seven years later it was located at Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research (LIBR), where it is now accommodated in 21 rooms.
The issues of competent human resource, lab supplies and equipment, have to be dealt with, said Mr. Sahr, adding that there has been a significant improvement in lab systems in the area of human resource, good capacity building and laboratory structure and technology.
The NDRL Director said the Ministry of Health has demonstrated its commitment to improving the health sector because it is a priority.
He noted that the Global Health Security Agenda’s five-year strategic plan for Liberia will help strengthen the health system.
However, he called for resource mobilization for implementation, noting, “The Ebola outbreak taught us many lessons.”
The Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Alex Gasasira, pledged his entity’s commitment to Liberia in its endeavors to build a good public health sector.
For her part, Ms. Candace Eastman, CEO of Africabio Enterprises Inc, said “Focusing on clinical laboratory is long overdue in Liberia. Let us ensure that beyond Ebola, we can begin to prioritize diagnostics. It cuts across every area of medicine and impacts the status of our healthcare system on the overall.”
“This conference,” Ms. Eastman added, “not only provides allied health professionals with the tools they need to start to increase supply and demand in this arena; it also sets a stage to promote the creation of jobs in healthcare.”
The Africabio’s Chief Executive Officer said, “Africabio wants to promote public-private-partnerships where there is value for all stakeholders, from the Ministry of Health to vendors, researchers and private companies that can leverage this experience to ultimately improve labs here for all Liberians.”