Liberia Begins Preparation for Typhoid Vaccine

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Monrovia – Liberia has begun massively preparing to launch the typhoid conjugate Vaccine come early next year, according to information from the Ministry of Health.

The vaccine preparation, which began as a training session in Grand Bassa County, kicked off Wednesday, December 4. The training was organized by the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI).

A Health Ministry statement said the ongoing training brings together Child Survivors and Data Officers.

According to the Health Ministry’s Communications Consultant, Mr. Sorbor George, topics for the preparation include Data Analysis, Problems Identifications, Vaccine Forecast, among others.

“The country’s effort to introduce the Typhoid Vaccine Micro Planning is being supported by Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium, PATH, a US-based institution,” George said.

If introduced, Liberia will be the first country in West Africa to launch the Typhoid Vaccine nationwide.

When it is introduced, it will bring to 15 the number of vaccines introduced so far by the EPI within the Ministry of Health.

George stated that a study conducted by the Global Burden of Disease estimates that Liberia recorded over 7000 typhoid cases in 2017.

One of the Health Ministry’s international partners — UNICEF — has reassured Liberia of its continual support to improve the nation’s immunization coverage.

National Health Confab

Meanwhile, at the ongoing 11th National Health Review Conference, health authorities in Liberia are suggesting that sick patients pay fees for medical services rendered to them at public health facilities. This discussion is being held at a time when the world health body is pushing for free public health delivery system. 

Two health authorities, Dr. Peter Coleman, Senate Committee Chair on Health and Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah have proposed that patients should now pay fees for the services they get at various public health facilities.

Making separate remarks Tuesday, December 3, at the formal opening of the health conference taking place at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, the two health authorities stated that the payment of fees for services would help beef-up government’s capacity financially to respond to health delivery in the country.

This latest proposal runs contrary to universal health recovery, which emphasized the need for free, accessible and affordable health delivery for all.

During former President Ellen Johnson Sirlea’s regime, health service delivery was “free” at public health facilities. 

Speaking further, Min. Jallah said progress of achieving universal health service under the current George Weah-led administration is being hampered by domestic resource mobilization, which the payment of fees for service at public health centers can help address.

She said citizens usually complain that they paid fees under cover to get medical services; adding: “This move will have them pay through the proper channel.”

 “Universal Health recovery calls for you not spending all the money in your pocket; but most people in Liberia will tell you that when they go to any health facility they pay, so those moneys that you usually pay should be paid into the right channel,” Minister Jallah said. 

Dr. Jallah noted that instead of allowing these illegal payments for the needed medical services, it would be prudent that citizens who are already enjoying the free health services system pay some affordable fees to get sufficient drugs, they always complaint of being lacking at public health centers. 

She, however, maintained that this measure is not intended to ensure that fees for medical services are paid to relevant authorities.

“We do not intent to put more financial burden on people, but to ensure that the money they are paying undercover be paid to the right people,” Dr. Jallah stressed.

The Health Minister recognized that international support to the health sector is consistently dwindling as a result of ‘donor fatigue.’

Dr. Jallah stated that if primary healthcare must be achieved, there must be total involvement of the users of health facilities themselves in management and services of healthcare.

The Health Minister outlined improvements in the health delivery system across Liberia ranging from maternal newborn care, infant mortality and other mortality rates. 

Additionally, Dr. Jallah furthered that the Health Ministry intends to work with all healthcare workers in affording citizens the kind of healthcare delivery needed by reaching to them directly.

In the same way, Dr. Coleman said the introduction of fees for services by government at public health facilities is geared at moving quickly for cost recovery at a time where availability of resources are draining in the country.

He said policymakers must now move quickly to avoid the purchase of medicines at drug stores due to the unavailability of drugs at public health centers.  

“Supply chain and resource mobilization are critical to be considered in this process. This includes the identification of available resources that will help improve the health system,” Senator Dr. Coleman said. 

Dr. Coleman added that every Liberian will have to adapt to these austerities measures when they are instituted, especially when minimum resources are available. 

The 11th Nation Health Conference, which is a three-day meeting, is being held under the theme, “Improving Access to Primary Healthcare Service in Liberia.”

The conference focuses on human resource for health and human capital development for building a resilience and achieving universal healthcare.

It also speaks to improving financial resource mobilization and enhancing efficiency for effective drugs and medical supplies management.

Meanwhile, panel discussion for the three-day is expected to focus other issues to include information for informed decision making and better governance, improving primary healthcare services through effective and innovative community health program, addressing disruption and stock-out of drugs and medical supplies and improving health sector emergency preparedness and response.

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