Health Workers Meet in Nimba to Brainstorm Solutions to Drug Shortages

GANTA, Nimba – Members of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia have completed another quarterly gathering in Ganta. The group’s president, Joseph Tamba, told reporters that the gathering was meant to have health workers discuss challenges they face in performing their duties and how they can find solutions to them.

“Every three months, all the health workers from the length and breadth of this country—all the 15 counties, meet in one county to discuss our challenges, our progress, and the way forward,” he said.

The major challenge discussed during the gathering of the health workers was the noticeable shortage of drugs in the country. Tamba said the health workers discussed the issue “lengthily” to find a solution.

“We are trying to say that the way forward is for the national government to intervene,” he said. “To see how best they can get drugs to the various facilities in the country.”

But even as Tamba called for a resolution to drug shortages, there is a general perception that health workers contribute to the problem by taking drugs from health facilities to sell for their own personal gain. Last month, a River Cess pharmacist was arrested for assisting in stealing medical supplies from a hospital.

However, Tamba disagreed with the general perception, saying that “there is no way that health workers can take drugs intended for patients in their various private hospitals—no, that is not possible.”

He said, “Sometime when we give them prescription from the hospital to get drugs outside, they get vexed and say health workers are stealing drug; that is not true.”

Tamba called on patients and heads of government-run health facilities around the country to remain calm, as “the government is working on plans to see how they can import more drugs.”

As for Tarlekpeh Wehyee Johnson, the president of the National Health Workers Association in Nimba, he believes that the drug shortages stem from health facilities across the country offering drugs at no cost to patients.

“People go to these health facilities 24 hours, and the drugs are given to them free,” he said.

He called on the Ministry of Health to establish a cost-sharing system that would allow patients to pay for treatment they received from health centers. He said in this way, money will be generated by these health centers to reinvest into drug purchased.

Johnson also used the opportunity to call on the government to increase the number of health districts in Nimba from six to eleven. Johnson said it would help to provide better oversight and supervision over health care delivery in the county.

“Nimba County has 564,366 [people] and is nursing 74 health facilities,” he said. “It’s a problem. it’s a challenge—we need [an] additional five health districts to make our health districts to be eleven. By that, we will be able to answer the affairs of the population we have here.”

Featured photo by Aaron Debah/ NHWAL

A resident of Ganta, Nimba County, Arrington has a background working with credit unions and other organizations dedicated to rural finance.

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