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Boakai considers the UN H6 Mission finding a critical national importance

The UN H6 Mission concluded its visit to Liberia over the weekend with a separate debrief with President Boakai at the Executive Mansion and Dr. Catherine Cooper, the country’s Chief Medical Officer.

By Liberia G. Peters 

Monrovia, May 6, 2024: Liberia’s President Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai has considered the United Nations H6 Mission finding on Liberia’s health sector to be of critical national importance.

Key in the finding is the report about 1,100 women and 8,510 newborns who die annually during childbirth in Liberia.

The UN H6 Partnership is comprised of UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, UN Women, UNAIDS, and the World Bank. 

It aims to support countries in achieving health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly focusing on sexual, reproductive, maternal, child and adolescent health.

Over the weekend, the UN H6 Mission concluded its visit to Liberia with a separate debrief with President Boakai at the Executive Mansion and Dr. Catherine Cooper, the country’s Chief Medical Officer.

In attendance were dozens of health practitioners at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, a suburb of Monrovia.

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Before that, the Missions held an interactive dialogue with the Legislature’s health committee following its assessment of the Liberian health sector and the Ministry of Health.

The delegation revealed that 1,100 women and 8,510 newborns die annually during childbirth in Liberia.

The Government of Liberia, with support from partners, is committed to accelerating the reduction of maternal, newborn, and child deaths in Liberia. 

President Boakai committed his government to address this grave concern during a briefing with the UN H6 Mission at the Executive Mansion.

President Boakai disclosed that the issues highlighted by the H6 Mission are of national importance and align with the ARREST agenda. 

He lauded the team for conducting such an important exercise and committed his government to collaboration and partnership to address the health concerns of babies and mothers across the country.

“As a government, we are committed to making things turn around. We commit to being a responsible society that will look out for our women and children,” said President Boakai. 

“It’s our challenge, and we have the manpower, commitment, and goodwill to ensure that we make this a record of the past,” he stated.

The mission has emphasized the importance of inter-sectoral coordination and the linkages to the ARREST agenda, which focuses on Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, and Tourism. 

The mission commended the increased budget allocation for health. However, the mission stressed the need for timely disbursement and effective expenditure tracking, increased access to free education up to high school for all, particularly linking girls dropping out and teenage pregnancy, empowerment, and meaningful engagement of adolescents and youth in policy making and implementation of youth-friendly services, and improvement of living conditions and infrastructure.

The H6 partnership remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting Liberia in achieving its healthcare goals and ensuring that no woman dies while giving life and that children should be born and live healthy lives and achieve their fullest potential.

During the briefing with President Boakai, Dr. Anshu Banerjee, H6 Mission Team Lead – WHO’s Director of the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Ageing in Geneva, emphasized the gravity of the situation.

“Eleven hundred women die every year in Liberia giving birth, and of course, no woman should be dying giving birth,” he mentioned.

The delegation expressed concerns over the increase in newborn mortality rates and the alarming number of stillbirths, attributing these tragedies to a lack of quality care during childbirth and antenatal care, among other factors.

Dr. Banerjee outlined specific targets to reduce maternal and new-born mortality, emphasizing the need to enhance access to healthcare services, reduce high out-of-pocket expenditure for health services, improve health infrastructure, and enact legal frameworks to address gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, child marriages, and teenage pregnancies, among other issues.

For her part, Dr. Catherine Cooper, Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, described the Mission’s visit and finding on Liberia’s health sector as rewarding while extolling the mission’s visit.

“We are grateful to the mission for their visit to Liberia and the exercise they conducted. We look forward to the mission’s results,” said Dr. Cooper.

He thanked them and said she looks forward to the support to identify priorities and how they can develop a road map to address this.

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