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Drug shortage undermines healthcare delivery

The Committee on Health at the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill has been mandated to probe the alarming shortage of essential medical drugs in various hospitals across the country and submit findings in a week.

This followed separate communication from Representatives Ivar K. Jones
of Margibi County electoral district#2 and Matthew Joe of Grand
Bassa County district#3 to plenary last week, seeking the indulgence of the
House to invite the Minister of Health and her principal deputies to
appear before full plenary to brief that body on the status of the
public health sector in the country, specifically shortage
of essential medical drugs and logistical supplies to public health

The current health situation in the country has moved from bad to worse, with services at major hospitals and health centers reduced to providing prescriptions to patients to go out and purchase drugs at private drugstores.

The lack of drugs in hospitals is reaching crisis proportion and some of the affected hospitals include G.W. Harley Memorial Hospital in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, Phebe Hospital in Suakoko, Bong County and the Charles Henry Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County, among others.

Liberia’s Minister of Health, Doctor Wilhelmina Jallah, who ended a three-county tour to western Liberia recently, is fully abreast of the looming health calamity, as she assured health workers across the country of ongoing effort by the Ministry to ask partners for seed funding that would immediately address shortages of essential drugs within the health sector.

Doctor Jallah and delegation toured Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, and Gbarpolu counties, respectively aimed at assessing the health care system in these areas.

Challenges in the health sector are enormous, ranging from inadequate qualified staff, lack of equipment, ambulances and drugs as well as poor incentives. Besides, some health workers are even not on government payroll.

We urge the Health Committee and members of the House to go beyond just hearing from the Ministry of Health and her deputies, and come up with policy measures to rescue the health system from collapse.
It is time that we address health matters with urgency, for we all are aware that recent history is replete with officials going abroad to seek medication because of the poor quality of health services in Liberia.

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We also call on authorities of the Ministry of Health to introduce stringent regulatory measures for drugs brought into country, so that distribution processes are not just transparent, but done with accountability to make service accessible and affordable to all.

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