Liberia: Our Impact

A health worker in Liberia washes his hands.Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH

Following a 13-year civil war, Liberia's health system was decimated. Clinics had been looted and destroyed, many health workers had left the country, and the Ministry of Health barely existed. Although conditions have improved considerably over the past decade, much work remains to be able to deliver consistent, quality services to Liberia's four million people and to be able to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. 

 {Photo: Kwabena Larbi/MSH}Local NMCP partners deliver mosquito nets in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic.Photo: Kwabena Larbi/MSH

"When I arrived in Liberia in early 2014,” says Management Sciences for Health's (MSH's) Kwabena Larbi, senior technical advisor with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), “I found there were a lot of malaria partners—the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), Global Fund, international organizations, lots of NGOs… Each was more or less doing their own thing.”

With thousands of people dying in West Africa from the Ebola virus and many more at risk, Liberia’s Accredited Medicine Stores (AMS) and other drug shops continue to help ensure access to pharmaceutical products and services at the community level even as other health facilities have closed down.

{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

For many Liberian women, the excitement of pregnancy is often accompanied by cautious fear. Too many of these women have experienced pregnancy complications themselves or know others who have suffered or died from hemorrhage, blood clots, infection, high blood pressure, or obstructed labor. While these complications pose serious dangers for all pregnant women, Liberian mothers face the added risk of a weak health system that often leaves them in the hands of untrained staff and ill-equipped facilities.

 {Photo credit: Rui Pires}Accredited drug shop (ADS) in Uganda.Photo credit: Rui Pires

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly one-third of the developing world population lacks regular access to quality essential medicines. In rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, most people first turn to community drug shops for their medicines; yet these shops may not be legally licensed, have trained staff, or sell quality-assured medicines. Committed to Expanding Access to Quality Essential Medicines 

 {Photo credit: MSH.}Floride Niyuhire, MD, MPH, a Performance-Based Financing Advisor for RBHS.Photo credit: MSH.

MSH contributes to health systems strengthening in Liberia through Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS), a USAID-supported project, led by the JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. We spoke recently with Floride Niyuhire, MD, MPH, a Performance-Based Financing Advisor for RBHS. Liberia experienced civil war throughout the 1990s, finally ending in 2003. How did civil war affect the health system?

The trained medicine dispenser/proprietor signs paperwork to receive the official AMS logo for her store. {Photo credit: Arthur Loryoun/MSH Liberia}Photo credit: Arthur Loryoun/MSH Liberia

The Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), Liberia Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) and the Pharmacy Board of Liberia (PBL) marked the successful launch of the Accredited Medicine Store (AMS) program in Liberia on February 12, 2013. The Sustainable Drug Seller Initiatives (SDSI) program supports the AMS initiative in Liberia through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Management Sciences for Health (MSH). 

(New York) Management Sciences for Health (MSH) today announced its $15-million Commitment to Action at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, pledging to scale up sustainable accredited drug seller programs in five African nations by 2015 and bring quality essential medicines to 70 million people in rural communities. The program will also positively impact the lives of thousands of female workers—many of the drug shop dispensers (up to 90 percent in some areas) are women—through creation of new business and employment opportunities.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has been awarded a three-year, $8.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue and expand its efforts to develop sustainable solutions enabling private drug sellers, many of them women, to help more people access essential medicines in Africa.

Luke Bawo, MSH LiberiaAfter enduring decades of civil war and violent conflict, Liberia has spent the last several years rebuilding its physical infrastructure and human resources for all social services, including health care. As part of the Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS) project, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is partnering with the Liberian Ministry of Health to provide more effective basic health services by building the capacity of local non-governmental organizations and Ministry of Health counterparts to lead and manage health projects.