21 May 2019

Liberia: CSOs Want Increment of National Budget for Health

A group of civil society organizations (CSOs), including Partnership for Sustainable Development (PaSD), has called on the government to ensure that budgetary allocation to the health sector be increased to about 15 percent in adherence to the Abuja Declaration.

The Abuja Declaration is a commitment that was made in 2001 by African Union (AU) member countries, pledging to allocate at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to improve the health sector.

According to the CSOs, the increment is to ensure that Liberia's health sector is adequately financed with emphasis on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, and sexual reproductive health in the 2019/2020 national budget.

The statement, signed by Thomas N. Teah, PaSD Project Manager, and read by Emmanuel Tamba, noted that due to the absence of a national policy, there are lack of direction in the provision of primary health care and essential services, thereby, creating gaps in health financing and service delivery.

The CSOs made the called on Friday, May 17, 2019 at the climaxed of a three-day budget tracking working section on sexual reproductive health (SRH) and maternal, newborn, child. It was organized by PaSD under the project Action for Accelerating Sexual Reproductive Health and Policy Implementation, funded by Amplify Change-based in the United Kingdom.

Tamba said information released during the tracking session, was gathered, peruse and document data, while information from current and past national budgets (2014 to 2019) fiscal years, health allocations, specifically on sexual reproductive health and maternal, newborn, child health were inadequate.

In January 2017, the World Bank approved a US$16 million grant from the Global Financing Facility (GFF) to improve the quality of primary and secondary health care services in Liberia with focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.

The GFF funding is addressing six priority areas as identified by the Ministry of Health, United Nations agencies, bilateral partners, NGOs, and the World Bank.

"There is a need that the government do more so that we can achieve the Sustainable Developmental Goal that looks at eliminating preventable maternal, child and adolescent death," Tamba said.

He added, "We also review the National Health Financing Policy Plan, the expired roadmap for the reduction of maternal and newborn mortality and mobility, and Liberia National Health Investment case."

Tamba said the ministries of Health, Finance and Development Planning and the Legislature should reference the National Health Financing Policy Plan (2011 to 2021) and the Liberia National Health Investment Case (2016/2020) documents to ensure that the implementation of 2019 and early 2020 deliverables of the investment case are captured.

"We need to work to convince the minister of finance that health brings in more returns. We need to unteach our finance people that health is a productive sector not consumable," he added.

Mr. Tamba then called on the leadership of the CSOs to increase their involvement in monitoring and ensuring health related policies, commitments, conventions and treaties are fully implemented.

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