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EditorialGeneralLiberia news

Editorial: A need to Prioritize Public Health Bill#23

More than 20 heads of Civil Society Organizations, women groups, university regulatory bodies, the Ministry of Health, and Health Association Leadership this week called on the Senate Committee on Health and Judiciary to urgently prevail on the entire Senate to concur with the House of Representatives in enacting the Revised Public Health bill#23 into law. 

President George Weah in February 2020 submitted the bill to the Legislature, which among others, seeks to address current and future challenges in the sector as well as integrate separate laws governing the public health system of Liberia. 

Despite Plenary of the House of Representatives passing the bill on July 21, 2022, and subsequently forwarding it to the Senate for concurrence,  on recommendation of the joint committee on Health and Judiciary, the “House of Elders” is yet to act accordingly, on such a crucial bill. It is unfortunate that senators will treat this bill with no urgency at all.

Liberia is faced with serious challenges in the health sector, ranging from brain drain, lack of drugs, equipment and widespread corruption. The poor state of health in the country is having a toll on ordinary Liberians. Citizens are suffering deaths that could be avoided basically because of lip service and lack of political will.

Officials here do not seek medication at hospitals in the country because of poor services and neglect. Instead, they line their pockets with public funds and run abroad to seek better health services, while citizens wallop in disease.

The Public Health Law of Liberia (Title 33) was first enacted as “The Public Health and Safety Law” before 1950. Six years later in 1956, it was amended and re-enacted as Title 31 of the Liberian Code of Laws. Subsequently, the Law was revised and re-enacted in 1976 as the “Public Health Laws (Title 33, Liberian Code of Laws Revised).

The focus person of a project titled: “Advancing a Framework for Public Health Delivery in Liberia” (implemented by Sister AID Liberia) Madam Patricia Gaye, says the need for the Senate to concur with the House on the passage of the bill is crucial to achieving a service delivery health system for the country.

“We are afraid that if the Senate Committee on Health and Judiciary fails to act in time until this current sitting comes to an end in June, the Bill will suffer serious setbacks. This is totally not what we want for our health sector”, she laments.

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Madam Gaye is right. Senators on Capitol Hill are currently preoccupied with re-election especially, 15 of them while the leadership there is praying day and night for President Weah to get re-elected so they can continue dishing out US$30,000 each among themselves, while the health sector lies in ruins as a result of neglect.

We call on Senate President Pro-tempore Albert Chie and his entire leadership in the senate to hear the plea of CSOs and other stakeholders in the health sector to dust the Revised Public Health Bill#23 presently languishing before that august body and concur with the House of Representatives in improving the country’s health services. Pro-tempore Chie will do the honorable by acting promptly for the public good.

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