NPHIL Boss Alarms Over Decrease In Health Services
The Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Dr. Mosoka Fallah, has alarmed over the decrease in the provision of key health services as a result of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dr. Fallah, who spoke to the London School of Economics and Political Science via a video conference recently, said key health services such as immunization, treatment and testing have gone low since the pandemic hit the country.
The NPHIL boss revealed that attendance rate at health facilities has dropped by 23 percent due to the virus.
“Patients are afraid to go to health facilities. Many of them have wrong notion that if they go to hospitals and present similar symptom like fever they would be tested for COVID-19 and be isolated from their families and friends. This has been one of the major problems in our health sector since the outbreak,” stated Dr. Fallah.
Providing statistical data on the health sector of Liberia amid COVID-19, the health expert disclosed that under-five treatment for malaria has dropped by 34 percent, while above-five has dropped by 35 percent.
Furthermore, he indicated that due to the outbreak, 35 percent of children are not being immunized as compared to the same time last year.
Dr. Fallah pointed out that 10 percent of those who need to be tested for HIV/AIDS to receive drugs are not receiving it due to the virus as well.
“Our health workforce is also another problem, because some of the workforce had to move to support the COVID-19 response. The regular health workers are now asking for hazard pay because they are of greater risk of contracting the virus. But in the current response, there is no funding for hazard pay for a regular health worker. The only hazard pay is for those who are directly involved with the response; hence, this is threatening our regular health services,” he noted.
“In summary, low attendance, low service utilization are key issues. We need to do more work in risk communication, mask ownership, utilization and usage. We have been shifting the module from bottom to up approach by doing more community engagements,” the NPHIL head intoned.
Commenting on the positives, he said Liberia has to a large extent done well within the West African sub region least to say the Mano River basin as it has recorded the lowest numbers of cases.
According to him, most of the successes scored in the fight against covid-19 can be credited to the lessons learned from the Ebola virus disease in 2014/2015.
“Ebola helped Liberia prepared for Covid-19 in many ways. As far back as January 22, we approached the President and let him know that the growing numbers of cases warranted enhanced airport screening. We established the President Advisory Committee headed by the President and a technical committee headed by the Minister of National Defense,” Dr. Fallah asserted.
“It helps us to build the infrastructures. Prior to Ebola, we did not have any structure in place for surveillance system. We did early warning and surveillance system and all of these were lessons we learned from Ebola,” he added.