Liberia: Society Groups Want Gov’t Increase Health Budget by 15 Percent

Emmanuel Tamba of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) (middle) reading the recommendations by the civil society groups at the end of the three-day budget tracking working section on SRH and RMNCH

Monrovia – In the wake of a continuing decline in Liberia’s health sector, a conglomeration of civil society organizations have petitioned the Government to increase the national health budget by at least 15 percent.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh- 0880881540/0777769531 / [email protected]

The Civil Society group, in addition, called on the Ministry of Health to ensure that there is a budget line for reproduction, maternal, newborn and adolescent and sexual reproductive health ((RMNCH) in the national health budget.

The group, made up of ten CSOs including the Partnership for Sustainable Development (PaSD), Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY), Women Care Initiative (WOCI), Success World Company and Liberia Women Network Empowerment (LIWEN) among others, made the call in a 12-count recommendations issued at the end of a three-day budget tracking working section on SRH and RMNCH conducted by the Partnership for Sustainable Development (PaSD) Friday, May 17 in Monrovia.

According to organizers, the gathering was also intended to review and document the budget lines and expenditure of the government on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and RMNCH programs, review investment Case 2018 and early 2019 deliverable to establish the level of government Investment in the SRH and RMNCH.

The group in its findings revealed that following the review of Liberia’s national budget for five fiscal years- 2014 to 2019, it uncovered that the Government has failed to meet its international commitment of allotting 15 percent of its national budget to health.

In 2001, member nations of the African Union during a conference in Abuja, Nigeria pledged to increase their health budget to at least 15 percent of their respective national budget and requested Western donor countries to increase their support.

According to the civil society groups, the government of Liberia’s national budget for the five fiscal years under review amounted to US$2,428,767,508, and of the amount, the government allotted US$305,020,602 to health; constituting 12.6 percent-falling short of the 15 percent threshold.

The group outlined that Liberia has not been living up to key national health policies including the National Health Financing Policy Plan, the expired Roadmap for the Reduction of Maternal and newborn mortality and mobility, and Liberia National Health Investment.

In addition to increasing the national health budget by 15 percent and apportioning fund for RMNCH, the civil society organizations want the government of Liberia allot 10 percent of the Health budget to Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent in adherence the ‘Every Woman, Every Child Initiative or the conventional mandate.

They further added: “Government should develop a new roadmap from the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and mobility in Liberia to replace the expired 2007/2015 version; government of Liberia (MOH, MFDP and the Legislature) should reference the National Health Financing Policy Plan 2011 to 2021 and the Liberia National Health Investment Case 2016/2020 documents; the government should ensure the implementation of the 2019 and early 2010 deliverables of the investment case.”

The group further called on all civil society organizations to increase their involvement in monitoring and ensuring health related policies, commitments, conventions, and treaties are fully implemented and called for the involvement of CSOs in the advocacy and preparation of a new roadmap to replace the expired 2007/2015 version.

Rapidly Declining Health Sector

The CSOs made the call in the wake of the rapidly declining health sector of Liberia.

Since the beginning of 2019, there have been reports of lack of drugs at major medical facilities across Liberia including referral hospitals and maternal centers.

Major referral hospitals including the Redemption Hospital in Monrovia, C. H. Rennie in Kakata, Margibi County, Tellewoyan Memorial Hospital in Voinjama, Lofa County, Liberian Government Hospital in Buchanan, Grand Bassa, the C. B. Dunbar, Phebe and Bong Mines Hospitals in Bong County and the Jackson F. Doe Regional, Referral Hospital in Tappita, Nimba County have all complained of shortages of essential drugs or basic operational items.

Liberia’s maternal deaths of 1,072 for every 100,000 births is one of the highest mortality rates in the world. In rural Liberia, infrastructures and facilities at clinics are often lacking and midwives and health workers have to deliver babies without any electricity at night.