Monrovia – Liberia’s health sector is seriously challenged and needs massive interventions in order to resuscitate the system.
Health institutions in the country are grappling with issues ranging from lack of specialists, drugs, equipment and nearly all suffer from administrative flaws.
However, the Minister of Health-designate, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, believes there’s still chance to revamp the sector.
In an exclusive interview with FrontPageAfrica, Dr. Jallah acknowledged the country’s broken health sector but praised former health ministers for keeping the resilience.
“All of the people that have been working in the health sector, the past ministers, the chief medical officers and all of the doctors and health professionals who have been working in the hospitals have done their best,” she said.
She, at the same time, said there is a void in the sector that has to be filled with all hands on deck if the sector must be strengthened.
“There are many things that we need to change and fill the gaps in order to improve and it’s a team work approach.”
“Even me as the Minister cannot do that job alone. It would take all of the people in the health sector to correct some of the problems to help Liberia to become a better place to live,” she said.
Dr. Jallah boasts a decade of experience in the medical field and is one of the few Liberian doctors who have become an icon in providing care delivery service, especially to women in Liberia.
She runs the 32-bed Hope for Women Health Center that provides specialized services for women and free-of-charge services for sexually-abused women.
She disclosed that a new 80-bed hospital is under construction in Marshall, Margibi County, which would provide specialized services to carter to the health needs of Liberians.
According to the Health Minister-designate, her vision for improving the health sector encompasses the improvement of working conditions for health workers, improving doctors and other health workers’ salaries, improved infrastructure and the image of health professionals.
Dr. Jallah said Liberia’s health problem is not only with the quality of services provided by the health facilities, but also lack of health knowledge to the public to help citizens identify symptoms of diseases and take precautionary measures.
“We need to do a lot of health education because these are some of the things that are really afflicting the people."
"If you don’t know the early warning signs of a disease then you’ll wait till it’s too late and this is the problem. We have to change the minds of the people,” she noted.
Dr. Jallah believes making judicious use of the health budget can help improve the sector.
According to her, if confirmed by the Senate, she would give a listening hear to every department in the sector to find what the complications are and how they can be collectively resolved.
Dr. Jallah has been on the frontline in helping to combat fistula in Liberia. According to her, upon realizing that fistula was prominent amongst women in Liberia, she travelled to Ethiopia where she undertook a fistula project to prepare her tackle fistula issues in Liberia.
She also worked at the nation’s premier referral hospital – John F. Kennedy Medical Center – but left to establish the Hope for Women, which now serves as a one stop-shop for women’s healthcare.
But all has not been rosy for Dr. Jallah. She has come under fire in recent time for allegedly wrongfully causing the death of one of her patients, Pastor Desiree Fahnbulleh.
Though she could not comment much on the issue as it is before the courts, Dr. Jallah told FrontPageAfrica, she regrets the death but it was purely an emergency that ended up the way it did.
“I was not in the country, I had scheduled her for a certain date but she came as an emergency 10 days earlier before the date I had scheduled her when I was supposed to be back in the country.”
“She knew and all of the patients I had scheduled for that time knew I was going to be out of the country. And they knew what time to come back for their scheduled procedures,” she said.
She lamented that she had been trying to reach out to the aggrieved family but they have not been receptive.