Monrovia - The World Health Organization (WHO) in Liberia has disclosed that there are currently 351 Medical Doctors and 150 Pharmacists in the country.
Of this, only 250 are Liberians and the rest of them are non-Liberians.
This means for every 12,000 people living in Liberia, there is only one Medical Doctor.
This ratio is more than 10 times WHO standards, which require 298 medical doctors, 150 pharmacists serving a population of about 4 million people. In the WHO recommendations, there should be 1 medical doctor to 1000 persons.
At their confirmation hearings, Vaifee Tulay, Deputy Health Minister for Research-designate and Dr. Francis Kateh, Liberia Chief Medical Officer-designate Tuesday, February 6, said if they are confirmed by the Senate’s Health Committee, they will work in collaboration with the Health Minister to develop a medium/long term health manpower capacity building mechanisms.
In separate comments, they promised to build a resilient health sector by improving the lives of health workers.
Mr. Tulay, when confirmed, will work as the chief researcher for the Ministry of Health, promised that he will continue coordinate the development and update of sector policies and plans at the national and decentralized levels.
He also promised to advocate for improved services at health facilities, with specific emphasis on equipping tertiary health institutions to meet international best standards, so as to reduce Liberians have to go to neighbouring countries for medical treatment.
“If confirmed, I will work with other officials of the Ministry to reduce gaps in patients-health professional ratio through increased support to state-run medical college and other private and faith-based institutions that provide health and medical training opportunities. Reduce the gap between the patient and hospital beds ratios.
“I intend to advocate for healthcare professional education in line with current trends in modern technologies and disease burdens and increase access to vital (birth and Death) registration in Liberia,” he said.
For his part, Dr. Kateh told the Committee members that if confirmed, he would do all to reduce maternally and under-five mortality.
According to him, the Health Ministry and partners have developed the Reproductive Maternal Neonatal Child and Adolescent Health Investment case aimed at improving maternal and Child health and reducing mortality.
Dr. Kateh also told the Committee that emphasis will be placed on the achievement of results by enhancing accountability through effective leveraging performance incentives, optimizing efficiency through improved productivity and integrating reproductive service delivery with other vertical programs such as HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria amongst others.
The nation’s Chief Medical Officer-designate also promised to resuscitate the Mental Health program that has been boosted by the passing into law of the Mental Health Act by the Liberian Legislature.
Globally, the burden of mental health disorders demonstrates a major public health problem that affects patients, family members, society and the nation as a whole.
Liberia is not an exception to the huge burden of mental health conditions especially after experiencing 14 years of devastating civil war and the Ebola outbreak. The need for an appropriate psychiatric/Rehabilitation facility cannot be overemphasized.
“Health workers are the backbones of every health system to ensure health authorities deliver high-quality services to those in need.”
According to him, the sector needs to invest in the sector workers and demonstrate to them that they are government greatest asset.
“We will prioritize the assimilation of over one-third of the public health sector workforce onto government payroll as civil servants and motivate the health workforce by improving wages, providing rural housing accommodation, better health insurance and hardship allowances for those working in remote and hard-to-reach areas,” Kateh promised.
A survey conducted in the health sector shows that there are 840 health facilities in Liberia of which 52% are public health management information system.
Little over 71% of the population has access to basic healthcare within 1hr or 5km in Liberia, Demographic health survey.