Home Business Gap Scales: Despite Huge Budgetary Allocation to Health Ministry, the Issues Still...

Gap Scales: Despite Huge Budgetary Allocation to Health Ministry, the Issues Still the Same

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The Ministry of Health has consistently come under
scrutiny over the last few years, especially as health workers strike for their
salaries and with little or no drugs or medical equipment found in public
health facilities.

Since 2020, the surge in Covid cases has been fluctuating
and the Government through donors have received batches of Covid-19 vaccines
but last year, the Ministry disclosed that a Madagascar herb cost US$71k.

According to the Ministry, during the height of the
outbreak, the leadership of Madagascar offered to share with Liberia, with no
cost some quantities of the Madagascar herbs.

But the Ministry said US$71K was used to transport the
herb to Liberia, “The offer by Madagascar did not include the shipment or
transportation of the herb, rather it became the responsibility of Liberia to
facilitate the movement of the herbal tea from Madagascar to Liberia. “

The current Covid-19 statistic shows that 6,812 total
confirmed cases and 287 deaths while 5708 recoveries as of January 2, 2021
report.

The Ministry has consistently received one of the far
higher budgetary allocations among 10 Government institutions including the
2022 proposed budget.

The question remains, what exactly does the ministry do
with its budgetary allocation?

The appropriation for the health sector increased by 45%
from US$69 million in FY2013/14 to US$99.6 million.

Recurrent costs in the sector increased by five percent
(US$57.9 million to US$61.2 million), plus a General Claims allocation of US$9
million for Ebola Fund and US$21 million for health sector stabilization and
recovery in the 2014/14 budget.

The 2018/19 Health appropriation was US$81.58 Million,
showing a 12 percent increase compared to the same year’s appropriation of 73.1
Million.

In the 2022 budget, the health sector allocation is
US$83.1 Million, representing 10.6 percent of the overall budget.

Beyond Lack of Equipment, what is lying in wait?

There have been a lot of claims on the insufficiency of
equipment including drugs and medical gear at Public health facilities. As a
result, patient families are left to purchase from nearby pharmacies.

The lack of equipment and medical gear has been one of
the contributing factors of death at Health facilities according to Dr. Abraham
Jawara former Medical Director of Buchanan hospital.

He said the hospital has huge challenges that might lead
to closure or a serious increase in the death toll.

“There are lots of challenges ranging from the lack of
fuel allotment,  no essential drug so we
are constrained,” Dr. Jawara said, adding that while patients are being told to
purchase their drugs, inpatients have already been asked to transfer to other
health centers.

“We have been crediting here and there to the extent that
we are not creditworthy anymore. So, we are constrained to run the hospital at
this point. We are not even able to move our ambulance.”

On several occasions, relatives of patients normally
purchase their petrol to transport their patients to referral hospitals in
Monrovia but the only functional ambulance recently had a mechanical problem.

At the same time, In Bomi County Superintendent Adama
Robertson decried the appalling and deteriorating state of the health system in
the county he described as the most “hard to live region” in Liberia.

According to him, some citizens residing in the county
continue to die one after the other as a result of the lack of medicines at the
only referral public health facility in Bomi.

Also, the Maternal mortality ratio according to the World
Bank per 1,072 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births live births.

Meanwhile, the fiscal year 2022 Draft National Budget is
US$785.6 Million. This amount when compared to the FY 20/21 has an increase of
46.7 percent.

Out of the 785.6 Million, tax revenue constitutes 492.2
Million, non-tax revenue comprises US148.4 Million while the external resource
is US$145 Million.

What is the Region Health Budget

West African country
Ghana, has 14.2% (32 424 000 GHS) of its total 2021 health budget allocated.  In Sierra Leone,
the Health Ministry is LE 897 Billion when converted is US$57,089,031.29.

See the graph of how much the Ministry of Health spent on
Compensation

However, Dr. Siaffa Kamara said that the Health Ministry needs to
explain its recurrent expenditures. “There is need for the Ministry to put its budget where it should be.”

Also, Joint Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Committee member and River Gee County lawmaker Representative Francis Dopoh said thorough scrutiny of the “off-budget” component, which comes in loans and grants, has not been adequately scrutinized by lawmakers during the passage of previous budgets.

He noted that the situation experienced in the past has now compelled members of the Joint Committee to place keen focus on the details of loans and grants proposed in the current draft National Budget which is before them.

“Most of the time we have had limited focus on the off budget which is a claim against the Liberian government which comes either by grant or loan. 

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