Update: A commitment to the health of Liberia
The untreated burden of NCDs has been a key priority for the MOHSW as they face the enormous challenge of Ebola with the help of groups like MSF, Last Mile Health, PIH, and the US government. At the request of our colleagues in Liberia, we have reactivated the process to support a consultant seconded to the NCD unit at the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends and colleagues as they work to ensure the epidemic is halted and the citizens of Liberia are out of danger from Ebola.
The story of NCDs and injuries in Liberia
Liberia is a small country in West Africa of 3.5 million people. The country is rebuilding its health system after a 14-year civil war, during which 90 percent of health professionals fled the country, and now coping with the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history. Half of the population lives in remote rural areas with little or no access to basic healthcare. Many Liberians live on less than $1 a day, and the country had a per capita GDP of $414 in 2012. Though it is one of the poorest countries in the world, Liberia was spending approximately 15.5 percent of GDP on healthcare before the Ebola outbreak.
Prior to Ebola, noncommunicable diseases and injuries accounted for a large number of visits to hospitals, which indicates a need to bring treatment closer to patients and to make diagnoses earlier in the progression of disease. As the virus has destabilized the health system and reduced the health workforce, the burden of untreated NCDs has grown alongside the Ebola epidemic.
Under the leadership of Karsor Kollie and Faith Kamara, the NCD Control Unit of the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare engaged in a multi-year planning and assessment project to expand NCD treatment in a way that will serve the poorest and hardest to reach patients. As NCD and injury planning restarts at the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the focus is on integrating emergency planning into broader health systems rebuilding, revisiting NCD national policies and plans, and service introduction and scale-up.
Goals of the partnership with NCD Synergies
NCD Synergies and PIH Liberia are partnering with the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, to support national planning for NCDs in Liberia. As part of its post-Ebola recovery strategy, Liberia is developing comprehensive human resources for health strategies to address the greatest bottleneck to health service delivery, and will work with PIH and other partners to integrate NCD and injury services into these efforts. Improving existing data and prioritizing clinical interventions that can be delivered by health workers will have a significant impact on access to NCD care for the very poorest in Liberia.
The NCD and Injury Policy Advisor will be based in Monrovia at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
- Through a technical working group, the NCD Control Unit has convened local NCD specialists and other experts to gather facility and survey data (including the WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance or STEPS survey) on the burden of NCDs in Liberia. That data has been included in the draft National Policy and Plan for NCDs, which will also propose a service scale-up calendar.
- The Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has engaged with Last Mile Health and other partners in pilot projects focused on the development of comprehensive primary healthcare programs, such as Last Mile Health’s deployment of frontline health workers (FHWs) in the Konobo district of Liberia.
Page sources: Last Mile Health, World DataBank, UNICEF, UN MDG database, thanks to Renato Quispe Ayala for research.