The World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, says the region still faces tremendous problems of capacity, emergency response, and so many needs in weak health systems.
Besides the Ebola crisis that killed thousands of victims, Dr. Moeti says the main challenge in the African Region is that the needs are so many, including emerging health issues like non-communicable diseases, weak health systems, demanding enormous support from the W.H.O. despite limited resources.
Dr. Moeti and Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, jointly addressed reporters in Monrovia Thursday when Mr. Ngafuan announced that the Ministry of Health here “needs about $1bn over the next seven years” to build a resilient and vibrant health system to respond to future outbreaks and health crisis.
Dr. Moeti, a Botswana national, who becomes W.H.O.’s first woman Regional Director for Africa, has been on days of visit here since Tuesday this week, to access the WHO’s impact in Liberia, specifically in the fight against Ebola, show solidarity with Liberians and commit her office’s preparedness to support and provide policy advice to the government in its recovery plan.
During her visit here, she has been in a range of meetings with Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and authorities in the Incidence Management System, Ministry of Health, current and retired staff of W.H.O., and community engagement, among others.
The WHO envoy assured her organization’s support and advocacy in getting donors’ support to Liberia’s recovery plans, having expressed confidence that a strong and resilient health system would enable Liberians and other African Countries to resist future outbreaks.
Though Dr. Moeti says one of W.H.O.’s challenges will be responding to a specific need of each country, she suggested that more resources need to be shifted to particular areas to among others, battle HIV and malaria, saying, “we need” to engage in dialogue with funders.
She however said the W.H.O. was very encouraged by the determination of the Ministry of Health with respect to how it intends to implement Liberia’s post-Ebola recovery plan, having earlier applauded government’s plan to establish public health institution that will build capacity and strengthen quality health service delivery.
According to her, W.H.O.’s big lesson learnt from the Ebola crisis that ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is “the importance of community engagement,” particularly appreciating Liberia’s role played beyond its borders during the crisis in the West African Region.
She has meanwhile commended President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for her “exemplary leadership in responding to Ebola,” as well as the government and people for the actions taken in order to control the outbreak.
She observed that the coordination among government, partners and the people in the communities enabled the kind of response that brings Liberia to where it is today, in a countdown since the last Ebola case.
Dr. Moeti cited W.H.O.’s personal contribution in the fight here, particularly the organization’s support to dignified burial of deceased persons, community dialogue and engagement, among others.
Earlier, Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Ngafuan said the Ministry of Health needs US$1bn over the next seven years to build a resilient and vibrant health system, seeking an increased support.
Mr. Ngafuan said the W.H.O. is currently supporting Liberia’s EVD transition plan and strengthening surveillance at regional levels.
While informing Dr. Moeti of the social and economic consequences the country has incurred due to the Ebola crisis, The Minister also emphasized that orphans have increased here and families have reverted to abject poverty.
He however said Liberia was not relaxing its guide against Ebola despite the fact that the country was observing its second 42 days of countdown to meet the bench to be declared Ebola freed.
By Winston W. Parley