Health Sector Overview
The national health system is based on three main levels of care — primary, secondary and tertiary — with each level acting as a gate-keeper for the next level.The Tertiary Level is represented by the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Medical Center (JFK-MC), which serves as the only referral hospital for complicated emergencies, surgical and specialized services. It comprises a paramedical and nursing school; a large laboratory for various tests and diagnosis, X-ray, Dental, Optometry, and Emergency and Surgical units.
The JFK-MC was severely damaged during the country’s 14 years Civil War and is being rehabilitated to enable it to serve as a tertiary referral facility for the whole country. The health care system is managed by 727 public, private and faith-based health facilities throughout the country at all levels (clinics, health centers and hospitals). There are 7,213 health care workers on government payroll (excluding Presidential Appointees).
Liberia regards health as a fundamental right and treats it as a priority area of interest in line with SDG3: Health & Wellbeing. Further, the government recognizes that the soundness of economic recovery and development is founded on the health of the population. Thus, to achieve equitable access and sustained improvement in health care delivery, collective global collaboration has been sought to pool resources and direct programming to cater to all segments of the population, especially vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the disabled.
With support from development partners, Liberia has made steady progress in refocusing the health system. It is vigorously implementing an investment plan that is aligned with the Ten-Year Health Policy and Plan launched in 2011. The policy outlines a set of core objectives:
- increase the number and rationalize the placement of health workers
- increase the number of high performing health facilities
- orientate the workforce to be people-centered and gender-sensitive
- improve the enabling working and learning environments
Further, the country has initiated steps towards achieving universal health coverage through a program for the establishment of a Health Equity Fund and the signing of the Health Compact.
Liberia’s health service functions in a multi-tier system. At the national level, government formulates policy, undertakes planning, and mobilizes resources. Then, implementation takes place at three decentralized levels: county, district, and community levels, where the essential packages of health are defined and made operational.
Health service provision is pluralistic. The government owns 69 percent of health facilities nationwide, but management is carried out under contractual arrangements with non-governmental organizations. An estimated 31 percent of service providers are private, of which a substantial 40 percent are owned and managed by faith-based institutions.
The health sector faces huge, competing challenges that continue to impede and ruin progress made in recent years.
However, these challenges can be perceived as investment opportunities for public private partnership (PPP) with the government of Liberia.
Expanding access to basic health care of acceptable quality
Well-equipped laboratories for MRI, CT scan, Diagnostic Imaging and scanning; advance testing (DNA, drug, mammogram, prostate, etc.)
Mobile labs and clinics for rural areas
Establishing an eff ective, responsive and sustainable health care delivery system
Health Information System – transforming the health care system is dependent on how well we manage our
Information and data, and making sure the data is reliable and easily accessible to all interested parties, so they are able to make informed decisions.
An effective supply chain management
Transportation – Delivery trucks and air transport of medical supplies and patients, especially during the raining Season (April to November)
Delivery tracking system to enhance the tracking of medical supplies
Warehousing facility for sale of medical supplies and equipment