By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health has provided US$6 million to revive routine health services in five counties considered most affected by the Ebola virus across the country.
Those counties to benefit are Montserrado, Nimba, Margibi, Lofa and Bong while three international Non-Governmental Organizations and at least one local Non-Governmental Organization is to manage the funds under the supervision of the MOH for the next six months beginning immediately.
The healthcare funds seek to cater for routine services such as maternal newborn and child health, communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is among the NGOs that are targeted to manage the government’s fund provided not only for government healthcare institutions but for private institutions as well.
Apart from the overall management of the funds by the NGOs, specifically Africare is to manage funds provided for C.B. Dunbar and G. W. Harley; Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) is to manage the funds provided to healthcare centers in Montserrado County while MERCI is to supervise the JDJ and Bensonville Hospital.
Speaking during the signing ceremony between the MoH and the NGO partners at the compound of the Ministry yesterday, Chief Medical Officer, Bernice Dahn said the fund will be distributed based on the sizes and numbers of health care centers in the country and the amount of patient in-take.
She said it is no secret that the Ebola crisis had affected the routine health services across the country forcing facilities to close down by default. Dr. Dahn said hospitals are officially reopening but there is a need to make the facilities functional as they were before.
The CMO said the initial funds provided by the government will jump-start the process of restoring basic healthcare services in the sector so that gains made cannot be eroded and are appealing to other partners to help in that direction so that the confidence battered by the Ebola scare can be rebuild once more.
Dr. Dahn disclosed that currently faith-based institutions that are not directly run by government but are catering for citizens’ healthcare needs are being processed to receive aid in similar direction while the private institutions are being strengthened.
She said it is hoped that the initiative will prevent patients going to the hospitals or healthcare centers and are turned back by health practitioners adding, “However, the 4455 emergency numbers are still available; just in case.”
Meanwhile, following the signing ceremony, several persons claiming to be contractors of the Ebola Contact Tracing Team barricaded the two entrances to the Ministry of Health in protest for their wages.
The protestors who had gone to the MoH in demand of their pay said they are being dribbled by the health authority because the slips given to some of them to go to the banks to receive just one month pay bounced as they were told that there was no money or that the system was down.
While others who are yet to receive their slips are crying that no health authority is even telling them what is going on and the Christmas season is on. The protesters were seen yesterday jumping over the front gate of the MoH compound while the main entrance was seized preventing vehicles from going out and the security seen to have done nothing to calm the situation.
They said until the Minister addresses their plight or provide their money they would all sleep in the compound shouting insults as well as stating, “Your can come and take your bips and give us our money. We do not want to work for you anymore and if Ebola returns, you should find other people to help.”