West Africa: Liberia Joins West Africa Healthcare Federation

Monrovia — Liberia Monday joined the West Africa Health Care Federation. Liberia joined during the launch the Health care Federation of Liberia (HFL). The goal of the organization is to unify the private health sector in every country in order to collaborate to create an enabling environment for health care in the country.

The group is also a private sector counterpart for the Ministry of Health and other health bodies such as the West African Health Organization, the World Health Organization, amongst others.

Dr. Nicole Cooper, head of the organization, told reporters that the Health Care Federation will unite the private sector to ensure that the private sector collaborates with the public sector in implementing the national health goals set by the Ministry of Health.

"The Ministry's policies that we follow those policies but we'll unify the private sector in order to follow the policies of the Ministry of Health. We are not a regulator but we can amalgamate our strength to purchase drugs and other things.

"There could be projects the Ministry may want to implement and we could help to implement them on their behalf."

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, Liberia's Minister of Health said, unlike the private sector in the past, who focused on profit and didn't work with the Government sector to ensure the coordination of health care, this group will work with the government to ensure that Private facilities will be under the Umbrella of the Health Care federation.

"I see this partnership as a new beginning for the Health sector and with both groups working together we can work to improve the quality of care of all Liberians."

There is a global growing consensus of the importance of the private sector in poverty reduction and that a business-friendly environment must be in place to allow the private sector to strengthen and grow.

"The private sector provides at least half the care in the country so we need to unite to improve the quality of healthcare in Liberia and collaborate with government to drive the sector forward.

The voice of the private sector is much stronger when we work together," said Dr. Nicole Cooper, the interim chair of HFL. Members of HFL shall benefit from training and networking opportunities and also the potential to unlock opportunities from each other and the public sector that may arise due to better communication streams.

The formation of HFL is the result of a consensus of leading private health sector stakeholders to unify and is backed by a recommodation from the private health sector assessment conducted in 2019 under the Health Policy Plus Project.

Some of the challenges highlighted in the private sector assessment are that there is a need for capacity building within the private sector, private sector strengthening, better referral systems within the health sector as a whole and a need for better communication between the public and private health sector.

HFL aims address these challenges by working alongside the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and has been officially recognised as the private sector representative in deliberations with the Ministry.

This was officiated in November 2019 through a communique signed by the Minister of Health and Social Services and the interim chair of HFL.

"The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare welcomes the formation of a private sector body that we can regularly engage with to foster public private partnership and better healthcare in Liberia," said Hon Wilhelmina Jallah, "We are looking forward to engaging with HFL."

Another advantage is that HFL shall be a member of the West Africa Private Healthcare Federation(Fédération Ouest Africaine du Secteur Privé de la Santé, FOASPS), the regional body for national healthcare federations, and through FOASPS, also a member of Africa Healthcare Federation (AHF), which unifies all the regional healthcare federations.

AHF is recognised by the African Union and the World Health Organisation as their private sector engagement partner.

"The launch of HFL is a day to celebrate not only for Liberians but for West Africa as a region because we want to lift the region towards better healthcare for all," said Clare Omatseye, the President of FOASPS, "we warmly welcome HFL as a member of the regional federation and I am looking forward to engaging with them."

"AHF would like to congratulate HFL on their formation," said Dr. Amit N. Thakker, the chair of AHF, "this shall transform the health sector in Liberia as members come together and collaborate on ideas to deal with the issues in the Liberian health sector collectively."

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