Monrovia - Dr. Peter Coleman could not hold back his words on the huge challenges engulfing Liberia’s health sector and how it would serve as a stumbling block for the country’s new health Minister if these issues are not promptly addressed.
On the occasion marking the handing over of authority to Minister Wilhelmina Jallah Tuesday at the Ministry of Health, the Senate Committee Chairman on health claims that the number of ghost names on the ministry’s payroll might be around 3,000, while he called for the cleaning up of the system.
He also warned against the diversion of health delivery funds for personal gains and said such action is responsible for the country’s poor health delivery system.
The internal audit division of the MoH has earlier reported that 750 ghost names are on the payroll, while 1,750 are still being verified.
But Senator Coleman said: “Already we have identified the ghost names, internal audit said they are 750 but there is still 1750 of them that still need to be identified, so practically there are almost 3,000 ghost names lying in this sector. We need to identify the ghost names so that those savings can be used to put other government workers on payroll,” Senator Coleman asserted.
The Grand Kru County lawmaker, who is a certified medical doctor, further argued that the discovery of the huge ghost names on the payroll depicts that “few health workers are stealing money belonging to bulk of the health practitioners,” whose names are not on the ministry’s payroll.
Yet, alleviating challenges strangulating the sector, according to him, would not be possible if fund intended for health delivery are not use wisely.
He said there’s a visual circle of corruption at the ministry and warned the new administration of following the same path of keeping ghost names on the payroll.
However, the Senate Committee Chair on Health promised to lobby with his colleagues at the Capitol for the increment of the Ministry’s budget in the upcoming fiscal year in order to improve the wellbeing of health practitioners.
He challenged the new administration to deliver more, owing from several capacity building offer by the government and its international partners for actors in the health sector.
“With the cadre of professionals that are in this building and the entire health sector madam minister; we don’t expect anything less than delivering, because these are individuals not only this country has spent a lot of money training them, so we expect you people to deliver,” he said.
Senator Coleman acknowledged the progress the sector has made, but said Liberia faces enormous challenges including pre-immunization and high maternal and child mortality rate.
“As a sector, we must reach our immunization above 90%, we must fight hard to reduce this very bad health indicator that reflect negatively on our country."
"Indicator of maternal mortality, that is a challenge, Madam Minister,” he said.
“You come from that sector and I’m sure that the President made no mistake in looking at your qualification to ensure that in the next three years, Liberia will not be referred to as one of the countries with the worst maternal mortality rate in the world. That is a challenge.”
Dr. Jallah officially took charge of the Ministry Tuesday, assuring that her administration will revamp Liberia’s health delivery system.
Dr. Coleman said Liberia will continue to be a low-income country as long maternal and child mortality is not tackle.
He said the health sector is a crucial, noting that it is incumbent upon the new minister to displace total dedication in achieving her goal.
Dr. Coleman also maintained that the senate has already soften the grounds for a smooth sail of Dr. Jallah’s health service delivery plan with the passage of key legislation that are cantered on providing critical health needs.
“We know that we passed a legislation giving birth to the Liberia Post Graduate College, a college for the first time in our nation history, we now training specialists to mount the health services of this country,” he said.
“We’ve passed a legislation that gave birth to the National Public Health Institute of this country, an institute that is so critical, because 90% of our disease burden is constituted by communicable diseases.”
With the establishment of these institutions, he said Liberia is prepared to swiftly combat any form of communicable diseases.