LIBERIA – The Ministry of Health has boosted quality healthcare delivery with 1.5 million Liberians in rural communities benefiting from quality and affordable healthcare through its National Community Heath Program.
Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah said since the launch of the National Community Health Program Service in 2016, has not only transformed healthcare delivery system.
According to her, the program has also increased access to quality and affordable care at the doorsteps of rural communities.
“The current population served by our Community Health Workers through our National Community Health Program is about 1.5 million of our nation’s rural communities in 6,333 communities, 89 health districts in the 15 counties,” Dr. Jallah explained.
To date, she said, there are a total of 4,331 CHAs and 469 Community Health Service Supervisors.
The Ministry of Health has also seen a boost in treating 1.2 million Liberians of malnutrition through the National Community Health program service.
“Our Community Health Workers have conducted 8.9 million home visits including 551,951 pregnancy visits; treated 905,184 childhood cases of Malaria, Pneumonia, Diarrhea, and 1.2 million screening for Malnutrition cases,” Dr. Jallah explained.
She added that they have also provided 446,388 women with access to family planning services and referred over 355,000 pregnant women for Antenatal care and facility-based delivery.
According to her, they have identified and reported about 7,106 potential epidemic events excluding COVID-19.
The Health Minister continued that despite the many health system challenges, the National Community Health Program has contributed to an increase in access to essential health services.
She explained that the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health officially revised the National Community Health Service Policy from 2016 to 2021.
“A key element of the Revised Policy was the institutionalization and integration of the National Community Health Program in Liberia’s health system,” she detailed.
Dr. Jallah noted that Liberia’s National Community Health Program has gradually advanced and made significant progress since the 2014 – 2015 Ebola Epidemic.
Based on the priorities outlined in the Post-Ebola Investment Plan for Building a Resilient Health System, she said the Government of Liberia set a roadmap to rebuilding a resilient health system to provide health security to all people.
She indicated that the government set a road map to reduce risks due to epidemics and other health threats, accelerate progress towards universal health coverage, and the creation of a National CHA Program.
According to her, the National CHA Program was created as part of a “fit for purpose” health workforce and contribution towards sustained community engagement.
Dr. Jallah pointed out that as of December 2022, CHAs have increased equity in access to health services, reaching more than 70% of Liberia’s remote rural population of 1.5 million.
She said 25% of all positive diagnoses of malaria by Rapid Diagnostic Tests are now done by CHAs at the community level since 2018.
She explained that between 2018-2022, there was a 50% increase in confirmed malaria cases, highlighting the role of CHAs.
As of December 2022, she said, a total of 619,233 cases of malaria, 182,560 cases of pneumonia, and 122,110 cases of diarrhea were treated by CHAs.
At the same time, she noted that 1,193,865 children under five have been screened for malnutrition and referred by CHAs.
“The current population served by our Community Health Workers is about 1.5 million of our nation’s rural communities in 6,333 communities, 89 health districts in the 15 counties,” said Dr. Jallah.
To date, she said there are a total of 4,331 CHAs and 469 Community Health Services Supervisors.
Additionally, Dr. Jallah narrated that CHAs and their supervisors were already in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to provide essential services to their communities through detection, prevention, and response despite interruptions of services in most of the health facilities.
“Given the immense gains made through our National Community Health Program, it is now a key pillar of the Liberian health care delivery system,” she said.