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Liberia: A remarkable example in building a strong national community health workforce

MONROVIA, March 22, 2023 – Liberia’s leadership in building a strong national community health workforce program has been described as a remarkable example of partnership, commitment, and innovation. This program has transformed how health services are delivered and has brought quality and affordable care to many communities.

Dr. Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) for Women, Children and Adolescents, made these remarks when he addressed the official opening of a Community Health Workers (CHW) Symposium at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Monrovia. “As we work together to find innovative ways to build stronger health systems, Liberia provides a powerful example of what is possible,” Dr. Uribe noted.

The World Bank and the Global Financing Facility are among several partners supporting the organization of the Community Health Workers Symposium in Liberia which is bringing together over 700 participants.

The World Bank and the GFF are proud to support Liberia and many other countries across the continent, as well as in all other regions of the world in their efforts to strengthen their health workforce, their primary healthcare systems, and overall, their health systems, the World Bank Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population emphasized.

This meeting comes at a critical time, which focuses on the need to support and strengthen the health workforce, which is now more urgent than ever, he said. “Amid the health and financial impacts of multiple global crises, we must ensure more investments and opportunities, focusing on workforce and on community health,” Dr. Uribe pointed out.

“A health worker’s role is paramount at all levels of what we do, starting by caring for the wellbeing of our communities. Furthermore, they are the frontline for advancing equity and universal health coverage, for deploying essential services and maintaining public health, for building resilience in our systems, and securing global health,” he said.

He added that: “in the community settings, in the villages, in our towns, they serve as the trusted advisors who can best help shape health behaviors, provide needed information, and deliver essential services such as antenatal care, child growth and development, and screening for risks, taking care of chronic conditions or securing proper nutrition.”

The World Bank Global Health Director said community health workers know the community as they are part of it; they know the families and their members and understand the context of their history, their expectations, and their needs.

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“Our current 44 billion dollars global health portfolio supports countries to make their health system stronger and more resilient and to achieve better health outcomes for their citizens, conscious of the importance of an effective workforce sustaining such systems,” he stressed.

Because of that, he said many of their supported projects focus on providing them, the community health workforce, the frontline workforce, with critical equipment, medicines and supplies to deliver services safely and effectively, financing professional training that empowers and motivates them to deliver quality services and ensuring that they are properly recognized and remunerated and have expanded competencies that are integrated and balanced with the specific needs of their health systems.

Lastly, Dr. Juan Pablo Uribe underscored the importance of a multi-sectoral approach in this effort, adding that, “we at the World Bank and in GFF, are working with Education to help build the necessary skills, with Governance and Gender to identify and support workers in their communities; with public financial management and health financing reforms; we provide the right incentives and ensure the long-term sustainability; and with the agriculture sector, to ensure where possible, the OneHealth approach.”

“We all know, that only by investing in the health workforce we can secure delivering high quality primary healthcare centered on each patient, each family, and each community,” the Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility (GFF) for Women, Children and Adolescents concluded.

His address was done through a video recording. He apologized for his absence but thanked the organizers for this opportunity to share remotely these remarks.

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