The Ministry of Health kicks off its 9th annual review of the health sector here under the theme, “The Health Sector in Retrospect: Setting the Stage for Universal Health Coverage in Liberia.”
The three-day conference, which brings together stakeholders in the health sector, including representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations, the United States Agency for International Development or USAIS, Superintendent Council, World Bank and World Health Organization, among others is expected to end on December 8, 2017.
Liberia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, lauds partners, health professionals and all attendees for their efforts, noting that Liberia has been through multiple stages of emergency, recovery and time for sustainability.
“We have come a long way since 2006 when we were just emerging from a protracted civil war and were early in the rebuilding stages”, says Minister Dahn.
She recalls that Liberia was in desperate need of everything such as health care, professionals, equipment and facilities, adding that the health system was 80 percent managed and funded by international partners.
She continues the country had fewer than 50 doctors and 200 facilities and the national health care policy was a five-page document without an operational plan.
According to the Health Minister, in 2007 the Ministry introduced the 2007-2011 National Health and Social Welfare Plan and Policy, which brought forth the basic package of health services.
Dr. Dahn explains the basic package was designed to impact the rebuilding of an holistic health system and its central pillar was to decentralize managerial functions to county level.
She says the 2007 plan also charged the Government of Liberia to meet standards that called for 15 percent of government spending to be dedicated to health care, detailing that in 2011, the National Health and Social Welfare Plan was updated for 2011-2021 and the basic package was expanded to the established package with focus shifted from emergency to recovery.
“In 2012 we were able to celebrate many successes and our facilities had increased to more than 600 and we now have more than 200 deliverables and we achieved Millennium Development Goal Four, our health care workforce was growing, delivering needed services for everyone.”
Dr. Dahn however laments, that unfortunately in 2014, Ebola crisis caused the death of almost 5,000 Liberians and eroded many of the ministry’s hardly fought gains, causing the sector a major setback.She stresses the to strengthen the system for emergency preparedness and response.
By Robert Dixon-Editing by Jonathan Browne