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Liberia’s Health Sector Nightmares

-As Stakeholders Identify Constraints

By Esau J. Farr

It is said in Liberia from an old adage that goes, “Don’t always blame the place you felt down, but where you stormed your toes” and it is exactly authorities and major partners in the health sector in Liberia did when they met at a consultative forum at a local hotel in Paynesville, near Monrovia.

Of recent, there has and continues to be reports of severe if not acute drug shortage at major health facilities in Liberia despite the interventions of national and international health partners.

Many continue to wonder as to the actual problems confronting the health sector and the way forward.

It was from this backdrop that the Ministry of Health organized a stakeholder’s consultation forum at a local hotel in Paynesville to identify problems affecting the sector and way forward.

During the forum several issues were identified as the major constraints hampering health care delivery system for Liberia considered by many as a national concern that needs holistic approach to curb said situation.

Amongst constraints identified are, resource management, organization structure and system and managerial policy.

Under issue one labelled as resource management, the stakeholders realized delays in supplying health facilities with needed drugs and logistics, improper communication flow between and amongst health authorities and service providers and low budgetary allotment as some of the major constraints facing the health sector.

Under organizational structure and system, the issues of organizational, managerial and individual accountability are said to be little or lacking thus negatively impacting health care delivery especially in rural communities.

Local health authorities also complained of political influence by and through the assigning of ‘partisan employees’ without a term of reference’ thus crippling efficiency and effectiveness on the job.

For the issue of management, it was clear and pointed out that there exist managerial problems at all levels on the national scene (from top to bottom).

In finding solutions to the numerous health challenges and or constraints, the stakeholders proffered llogistics for the last mile—positioning of stocking points; resources to facilitate drug collection or delivery; using private sector, e.g., Coca Cola, storage of temperature sensitive drugs, tracking or rolling out the Last Miles Information System (LMIS) to all counties and ensure functionality; relevant data for informed decision-making, specifically for optimizing availability as some of the ways forward.

They also identified what they called ‘Real time consumption data using appropriate technology’, strengthening accountability within Supply chain unit of the Ministry of Health as way forward to enhance efficiency for service delivery.

Others are; dissemination of information on drugs supplied and accounted for, establish citizen feedback mechanisms – citizen hotlines, capacity building for planning, quantification and forecasting as well as aligning procurement procedures amongst partners and government while at the same examining procurement thresholds to optimize efficiency. TNR

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