Liberia: CSO Survey Show 42% of Health Facilities are Without Personal Protective Equipment

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MONROVIA – A survey conducted by the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), has shown that almost half of the health facilities in Montserrado County are not fully prepared for the fight against the global pandemic – COVID-19.

 IREDD initial findings on the pandemic response in the country includes: the extent of preparedness of the Montserrado County health facilities in the fight against COVID-19.

IREDD is engaged in a participatory approach to promote transparency and accountability in the governance process.

Mr. Harold Aidoo, the Executive Director of IREDD, on Sunday told journalists that Montserrado County is a long way away from being fully prepared to fight COVID-19.

“Three examples in the findings clearly show this point: 42% of health facilities sampled are without Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). Of those facilities with PPEs, each has received only one supply/donation of PPEs from private persons, private organizations or Government and that private individuals and organizations donation account for 54% of all PPEs at health facilities within the sample in the Montserrado County.”

The assessment sought to explore the extent of preparedness of Montserrado County health facilities in the fight against COVID-19. This sample monitoring frame points out that the county is a long way away from being fully prepared to fight COVID-19.

Three examples in the findings clearly shows that: 42% of health facilities sampled are without Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and that of those facilities with PPEs, each has received only one supply/donation of PPEs from private persons, private organizations or Government, and That private individuals and organizations donation account for 54% of all PPEs at health facilities within the sample in the Montserrado County.

According to the survey findings, health facilities in the Monrovia and its environs are ostensibly short of supply of PPEs due to infrequent supplies, it begs the question of what is happening in the rural parts of the country.

The survey also shows that Liberia has made efforts to mobilize revenue in the fight against COVID-19. “As of this report, more than US$100 million has been received by the government either in the form of loans or grants from the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“How these monies are being applied to the fight against what is a global health scourge remains murky. What is though clear is that making maximum use of available resources by supporting every aspect of the National Preparedness and Response Plan will go a long way in ensuring that Liberia is ahead of the curve and sailing towards zero infection in the not-too-distant future.”

The survey also shows that both the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute’s day-to-day implementation strategy seem not to be aligned with the Liberia’s COVID-19 National Preparedness and Response Plan.

 The plan calls for robust procurement and distribution of PPEs to health facilities across the country. The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has also been reticent in making available to the Liberian public up-to-date expenditures towards health services on COVID-19.

This level of information asymmetry presents a challenge to citizens and organizations interested in monitoring Government’s response to COVID-19 as to which ministry or agency of Government to hold accountable for lapse in the fight against COVID-19 according to the survey.

“Whilst IREDD has concluded its first assessment of 19 health facilities in Montserrado County, it is also interested in monitoring Government’s COVID-19 response in other counties including monitoring the rollout of the Stimulus Package as provided in the Joint Resolution of the Legislature. 

“This can only be possible if public information is where it should be: in the public space. Drawing from the findings in this brief report, IREDD recommends the following: That the Ministry of Health ensures the regular and uninterrupted supply of PPEs to all health facilities in Liberia: public and private;

That the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia ensure that all health facilities throughout the country set aside and maintain an isolation center for suspected cases of COVID-19;

That the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning makes available to the public, on a weekly basis, disaggregated expenditure on COVID-19 per spending entity; and, that the Incident Management Team be empowered to improve on its rate of response to suspected cases of COVID-19.

“The monitoring assessment report could not have come at a better time as it presents an opportunity for stakeholders to acquire an independent review of the fight against COVID-19 in Montserrado County albeit from a small sample.

“As a bird-eye review of the status of Montserrado health services in the fight against COVID-19, the report also provides a platform for partnership between Government and civil society: one partner implementing and the other evaluating and providing recommendations on ways to strengthen implementation strategies in order to make the fight against COVID-19 a successful one.”

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