The official launch of a US$1M Project aimed at improving maternal and infant healthcare in rural Liberia took place on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia.
The 1-year project titled Strengthening Maternal and Infant Healthcare in Liberia (SAFE) Programme is funded by the United Arab Emirates Government in partnership with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and implemented by Mercy Corps.
Recent assessments of Maternal and Child Care by the World Health Organization point to a maternal mortality ratio of 1,072 deaths per 100,000 live births in Liberia, placing it among the world’s 15 most dangerous countries to give birth.
In a low-income country like Liberia, factors such as, low numbers of skilled and motivated health workers, unequal geographic distribution of the health workforce, low access to ante and post-natal care services, lack of information on maternal services and practices, cultural practices, poor accountability, poverty and low levels of trust for health sector workers and services puts the lives of women and children under five years at risk of death.
To reverse this canker, partnership among UAE Aid, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Mercy Corps seeks to address the root causes and challenges that affect the provision of maternal and child health care services in Liberia.
Directly the project will improve the health status of 15,000 women of reproductive age and children under five in rural communities of Liberia.
For his part, the UAE’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi said the visit by the UAE Delegation to Liberia is a follow-up to President George Manneh Weah’s recent visit and meeting with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE Delegation which sought to evaluate economic opportunities in Liberia comprised people from diverse backgrounds including the seaport development, healthcare and Small and Medium Enterprises.
Speaking to journalists, Liberia’s Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah described the partnership as welcoming news on account that one of the important challenges facing the health sector in Liberia is the high maternal and neonatal mortality which the project seeks to address.
According to Dr. Jallah, the project will focus on “primary care because this is where people are. People centered care is very important because you can see what issues they are having at the community level and making sure that they take advantage of the facilities at the community level.”
Responding to a journalist’s question on what she hopes the project will achieve, Dr. Jallah responded, “well, at the end of the project, we hope that we will see a reduction in the maternal and neonatal mortality.”
Speaking at the same event, the Country Director of Mercy Corps Liberia, Mr. Kwasi Gyeabour stated that “the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare will provide strategic direction and focus as to where the project is implemented over the next one year and we are hoping to reach out to 15,000 women of reproductive age and children under five in Liberia.”
“As we all know, we are still growing as a country. Our community health system is not as strong as it should be, so a bulk of the funding will go towards supporting health care at the community level, providing the necessities that we need to make sure our women are saved.”